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Ileana Baciu 2010-2011 Verbal Categories in English THE CATEGORY OF TENSE 1.Time vs. Tense 1.1. The generally accepted definition of the category of Tense, as a category delimiting the part of speech verb, explains Tense as representing ‘the chronological order of events in time as perceived by the speaker at the moment of speaking’ . The notions to be accounted for in this definition are: chronological order, Time and moment of speaking. These notions will be clarified in what follows. 1.1.1. Such notions as change or motion – the latter understood as change in location –, which, as we have seen, are important notions in the conceptual/semantic delimitation of situation/eventuality types, are possible only through and in the representation of Time. Moreover, as already mentioned, the conceptual properties of a ‘situation’ are visible only as the situation unfolds in Time. To exemplify, ‘the presence of a thing in one place and its non-presence at the same place can be perceived by a human subject if and only if these two contradictory properties are placed sequentially, one after another, that is in ‘Time’ (Stefanescu 1988:216). What this actually means is that ‘Time ‘ ( just like Space) is the form of our experience of the world. This means that (for human beings) Time is an epistemic notion not an ontological notion1. If Time can be viewed as being not a determination of outward phenomena, then it has to do with neither shape or form. Currently, this want is supplied by analogies and the course of Time is represented by a line progressing to infinity. This linear representation of Time preserves the sequential character (i.e. chronological order) of our perception of the world. We perceive Time in the same way we perceive Space, i.e. we cannot live in two times simultaneously as we cannot, at the same time, occupy two spatial locations. It means that when Time is measured by lived-through eventualities the measurement is unidirectional, i.e. forwards. Time is a single unbounded dimension, conceptually analogous to Space. Just as an orientation point is needed to locate positions in space, so an orientation point is needed to locate situations in time. As already suggested in the previous chapter, in natural languages the basic orientation point is the time of utterance (UT-T) (i.e. the moment of speaking), which is always the Present, that is to say that linguistic communication centers at the speaker. All linguistic expressions (such as: adverbs : here, there, tomorrow etc.; pronouns: I, you, this, that) that are related to the time of speech are known as deictic (i.e. pointing) expressions. The speaker’s centrality enables the identification of time and place. It also implies an organizing consciousness which provides a temporal standpoint ‘ from which the speaker invites his audience to consider the event’ (Smith 1991:138). Every sentence has a temporal standpoint (identified as AS-T), in simple cases the same as the temporal location of the situation (EV-T). Generally sentences about the Present have a present standpoint, and sentences about the Past and Future have past and future standpoints, respectively. As already mentioned, Time is conventionally represented as a straight line stretching in both directions from Utterance Time. Such a representation is given in (1) below: (1) Time line: -------------------UT-T--------------------Past Present Future

On the Time line, times and situations are located at moments or intervals relative to the Time of utterance. The situations may occur in order (i.e. sequentially) or they may overlap, wholly or in part. All sentences give us temporal information which helps us locate in Time the situation talked about. This temporal information is given by Tense morphemes and time adverbials. 1.1.2 Tense is a functional category, expressed by a set of verbal inflections or other verbal forms, that expresses ‘a temporal relation to an orientation point’( Smith, 1991). Tenses have consistent relational values: anteriority, posteriority or simultaneity. Tenses may have a fixed or flexible orientation. Tenses with fixed orientation are always related to UT-T. Whenever tenses, or rather, Tense systems are oriented to the moment of speech (i.e. the speaker) we say that they are used deictically (i.e. they are interpreted as pointing expressions, just like adverbs (tomorrow, now, here, there) or pronouns (this, that, I, you)). The traditional term for tenses that relate to UT-T is absolute tenses. Tenses that relate to an orientation time other than UT-T are known as relative tenses . Not all temporal reference is made by Tense. In English, the Future is indicated by another type of morpheme, the modal auxiliary shall/will. It is also common to have a combination of present tense (or present tense progressive in English) and future time adverbial that indicates the future, sometimes called Futurate. Some languages have tenses that indicate Present, Past and Future. Some others have a tense distinction between past and non-past, still others have a distinction between present and non-present. Some languages (e.g. Mandarin Chinese, Malay, Classical Hebrew) do not have the functional category of Tense. For these languages temporal location is expressed directly by adverbials and indirectly by (viewpoint) aspect.

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Ontological: relating to the study of existence. Situation types are viewed as ontological categories. Epistemic: (from Greek episteme knowledge) (approx) something discovered through sense/experience.

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There are also languages where tenses contribute temporal location as well as aspectual value, i.e. aspectual viewpoint may also be conveyed by Tense. The French ‘Impairfait’ and the Romanian ‘Imperfect’, for instance, may also convey a general imperfective viewpoint. In English, as we have seen, the expression of aspectual viewpoint is independent of Tense. 1.2. Temporal Adverbials Alongside Tense, temporal adverbials help us locate in time the situations talked about. As we have seen in our discussion of Aspect, temporal adverbials also contribute to the aspectual interpretation of sentences. The classification we adopt has been standardly recognized since Bennett and Hall-Partee (1972,1978) and Smith (1978), and the list below has been borrowed from Crainiceanu (1997). Temporal adverbials fall into the following classes: (a) locating adverbials (Smith 1978/)1991) or frame adverbials (Bennett &Hall Partee, 1972); (b) duration adverbials; (c) completive adverbials (Smith, 1991) or containers; (d) frequency adverbials. Our discussion of temporal adverbials will consider first those under (b) and (c) above, i.e. duration adverbials and completive adverbials, respectively, because these types of adverbials also have an aspectual value, requiring compatibility with the situation type. A. Duration adverbials include the following expressions: for three weeks/a month/a day, for a while, since the war/Christmas, at night, all the afternoon, half the afternoon, for hours, all the time, over the weekend, through August, a few days, during the war, always, permanently, all day long, throughout, from June to/till October, all day/night long, etc. Duration adverbials have been defined as: - indicating the duration of the described event by specifying the length of time that is asserted to take (Bennett & Hall- Partee, 1978); - expressing measures of time that are not specifically confined to future or past (Quirk, 1985) - contributing to the location of a situation in time (Smith, 1991) The definitions above suggest that duration adverbials have aspectual value: they are compatible with atelic sentences and odd with telics, that is to say that duration adverbials are sensitive to the aspectual character of the eventuality description they combine with. They are restricted to homogeneous eventualities/situations (processes and states) as the examples below indicate: (2) (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) Susan was asleep for two hours (atelic) Andrew swam for three hours (atelic) (?)John wrote a/the report for two hours (telic) *The train arrived late for 2 hours

De Swart (1998) adopting current views (Vet, 1994, Moens,1987 and others) points out that duration adverbials bring in a notion of boundedness. According to Smith (1991) the role of a single durational with atelic situation types is to locate an eventuality within the stated interval,. The interpretation of the sentences above is that the situation denoted by the predicate (the verb phrase =VP) lasts at least as long as the denotation of the durative adverbial. Whenever the situation type features and the adverbial features are compatible, the standard interpretation of the adverbial is to locate the situation within the stated interval. Whenever telic events occur in the context of duration adverbials there is a clash between the aspectual properties of the situation type and the aspectual properties of the adverbials. Such clashes are resolved by a shift in the value of the verb constellation which receive a marked interpretation. De Swart (1998) building on ideas developed by Moens (1987) assumes that the contextual reinterpretation is made possible by the process called coercion.2 Instantaneous atelic eventualities (semelfactives) 3 in the scope of durative adverbials and durative telic verb constellations (accomplishments) are reinterpreted as atelic/durative in the context of durationals: (3) (i) I read a book for a few minutes. (ii) Jerry wrote a report for two hours. (iii) John knocked on the door for two hours.

The event of book -reading and report-writing is coerced into a process; so is the semelfactive, which gives the sentence an iterative reading (i.e. the knocking is that of a process of the multiple- event type; actually an instantaneous atelic eventuality is interpreted as ‘durative’). The two telic events (3a,b) are not interpreted as involving natural endpoints. It is to be noticed that the direct object NPs are indefinite.
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Coercion is viewed as an operator that would yield an eventuality of the appropriate type which, then, can combine with the durative adverbial to result in a bounded process. The value of the operator is dependent on linguistic context and world knowledge 3 The incompatibility of atelic instantaneous eventualities of the ‘knock’ type suggests that actually the feature that characterizes durationals is as their name suggest [+durative]. One of the reasons to include such predicates within the class of achievements must have been the incompatibility of these predicates with this class of adverbials.

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In the case of accomplishments with definite NPs in object position the sentence is interpreted as a process of the multiple-event type (i.e. an iterative reading) or as a state (i.e. iterative/habitual reading); the same interpretation is valid for achievement predicates. It is true that in the examples below the form of the adverbial crucially contributes to the habitual reading: (4) (i) (ii) (iii) John played the sonata for 2 hours. For years, Mary went to school in the morning. For months, the train arrived late.

We think that a distinction should be made between the example in (4c) above and the example borrowed from Dowty (1979) and given in (4’) below. In this latter case, (as already mentioned) the entire situation is interpreted as a process (habitual of the multiple-event type) due to the uncountable NP in direct object position, i.e. the adverbial takes in its scope a process predication not an achievement predication: (4’) All that summer, John found crabgrass in his yard

We have to stress the fact, acknowledged by linguists, that the felicity of an aspectual reinterpretation is strongly dependent on linguistic context and knowledge of the world as the example below indicates. In this case there is no possible shifted interpretation and the sentence is odd: (5) (??)Mary reached the top for an hour

B. Completive adverbials are also known as containers (or adverbials of the interval (Smith, 1991)) and include expressions like in 2 hours, within two months, and their role is to locate a situation/eventuality at an interval during which the event is completed/culminates. Aspectually, completive adverbials are telic. The assumption, then, is that they are compatible with telic eventualities and odd with atelics. The examples below (borrowed from Smith 1991:157) confirm this assumption: (6) (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) John drew a circle in five seconds Mary wrote a sonnet in ten minutes ?Bill swam laps in an hour ?Mary believed in ghosts in an hour

Since completives denote an interval within which the situation occurred/took place, the atelic situations in (6iii,iv) are difficult to interpret. If they can be understood at all, they impose an ingressive interpretation to the entire sentence, in the sense that the adverbials refer to an interval elapsed before the beginning of the situation and not to an interval during which the situation occurs. Depending on linguistic context and knowledge of the world the sentence in (6iii) above may also be reinterpreted as telic in the context of completive adverbials, i.e. the reinterpretation may ascribe a natural endpoint to the eventuality. The possible readings for (6iii) would be as in (7i,ii) below and (7iii) for (6iv): (7) (i) (ii) (iii) Bill swam his planned number of laps (with)in an hour. In/After an hour, Bill swam his laps. At the end of/after an hour she began to believe in ghosts.

As far as (6iv) is concerned, the eventuality is taken as inchoative, as the paraphrase in (7iii) shows. The inchoative is an Achievement and has the ingressive interpretation that standardly occurs for achievements (and semelfactives, for that matter) with completive adverbials as in the following examples: (8) (i) (ii) (iii) They reached the top in ten minutes. He won the race in ten minutes. She knocked at the door in ten minutes.

Another clash is to be noticed with the imperfective viewpoint. Telic adverbials are incompatible with the progressive aspect. According to Smith (1991:159), in general, all imperfectives in combination with completive adverbials have an ingressive reading, i.e. the eventualities occurs at the end of the time interval referred to by the adverbial. The example below has such a reading: (9) In an hour, Bill was walking to work.

C. Frequency adverbials also give information that contributes to the temporal location of a situation (Smith 1991). Specifically they indicate the recurrent pattern of situations within the reference interval. The adverbial expression of frequency reinforces the notion of repetition, iteration: (10) (i) Samuel cycles to work most days, every day.

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(ii) We always/often went to the mountains in wintertime

As already mentioned such sentences express a series of individual events which, as a whole, make a state of the habitual type. Examples of frequency adverbials are: frequently, on Sundays, never, sometimes, often, whenever, monthly, daily, once a week, every week/month/year, usually, seldom, etc. D. Locating Adverbials (or Frame Adverbials). This type of adverbials contribute to the specification of Situation Time or Assertion Time. Generally, sentences with one time adverbial specify Assertion Time. As the name ‘frame’ adverbial indicates, they refer to ‘ an interval of time within which the described action is asserted to have taken place’ (Bennett& Hall Partee, 1978). The situation talked about in the sentence fills all or part of the time specified by the adverbial (Smith, 1991). Just like Tense, frame adverbials require an orientation point, and just like Tense they mirror the three possible temporal relations: simultaneity, anteriority and posteriority. Frame adverbials have the role ‘to locate situations in time by relating them to other times or to other situations (Smith, 1991). According to the time of orientation they indicate we can distinguish three classes: (i) Deictic adverbials: which are oriented to the time of utterance. Such adverbials are represented by the following expressions: now, today, last Sunday, last week, this week/year, tomorrow, next week, the day after tomorrow, tonight, a week ago, etc. As can be noticed, all adverbials in this class refer to some specific time span which is related to some other specific time span which is UT-T, but most of them give only the ‘maximal boundaries’ of the time span(s) in question (Klein, 1992) Anaphoric adverbials include time expressions that ‘relate to a previously established time’ (Smith, 1978) such as : until, till, in the evening, on Sunday, at night, early, before, in three days, on Christmas, at lunchtime, two years later, in March, already, etc. In this case too, we have only the ‘maximal boundary’ of the time span in question. Referential adverbials which refer to a time established by clock or calendar (Smith, 1978), such as: at six, August 19, in 1987, etc

(ii) (iii)

The time adverbials that are explicitly related to the time of utterance are known as ‘anchored’ adverbials. Deictic adverbs are ‘anchored’ adverbials. The last two classes are known as being ‘unanchored’, i.e. they are not anchored to the utterance time, their interpretation is made possible by an orientation point other than the time of utterance. According to their form, frame adverbials can be (i) simple or (ii) complex. (i)Simple adverbials include expressions like :now, yesterday, tomorrow (ii) Complex adverbials exhibit two types of complexity: (a) the complex adverbial consists of two or several concatenated adverbs: yesterday afternoon, tomorrow morning at 5. Complex time adverbials, in these cases, are taken as single units in temporal interpretation establishing the interval of time within which the described action is asserted to have taken place . For examples like the one below the complex adverbial, in conjunction with the tense morpheme, specifies AS-T: (11) Bill visited us last Sunday afternoon. b) the complex adverbial may consist of a preposition and a nominal, the entire group forming one constituent syntactically: (12) Phyllis decorated the cake before last night.

In simple tense sentences (i.e. without morphological aspect) the relation between the EV-T and AS-T is taken to be simultaneous, or rather EV-T is included/within AS-T. In such cases, we may consider the adverbial, in conjunction to the Tense morpheme to specify EV-T. To conclude, with simple tense forms in root clauses the Event/Situation time is non-distinct from Assertion Time regarding their relative order to Utterance Time, hence we can assume that with simple tenses adverbials actually specify EV-T. 2.0. The syntax and interpretation of tenses in root sentences As we have already mentioned there are three times that are required for the temporal-aspectual interpretation of sentences. The three times involved are Utterance Time (UT-T) , Assertion Time (AS-T) and Situation Time(Sit-T), also known in the literature as Event Time (EV-T) Adopting current approaches we define Utterance Time as the time at which the event of uttering the sentence takes place and it may function as an ‘anchoring’ event for another event or time interval defined as Assertion Time. AS-T has a dual role: it is part of the system of temporal location for complex sentences, and it gives the temporal standpoint of a sentence i.e. the locus from which the situation talked about is presented . The Assertion Time is explicitly given by the finite component of an utterance, i.e. by the tense morpheme on the verb or auxiliary and represents the ‘anchoring’ time for the interval when the situation denoted by the predicate occurs. Locating adverbials like yesterday, on Sunday etc. generally specify Assertion Time.

AS-T. We have also mentioned the fact that in the simple tense forms EV-T and AS-T time are non-distinct regarding their relative order to UT-T and in such cases UT-T can be taken to be the orientation/reference point for the time of the situation/event. This parallelism can be captured syntactically (Stowell 1993. It is related to whatever is expressed by the nonfinite component of the utterance (the ‘lexical (semantic) content’ of the utterance). (2004): (14) 4 (i) TP Susan left at/after/before midnight. just like tenses and aspects. (2004) holds for all types of time adverbials – locational or durational adverbs expressed syntactically as bare NPs (Christmas. Asp takes AS-T as external argument and EV-T as internal argument. the external argument and the internal argument are coindexed. 4 T takes as external argument UT-T (in root sentences) and AS-T as an internal argument . In such cases they are considered as non-distinct regarding their relative order to UT-T. Whenever Asp has no morphological content the event is portrayed in its entirety –as including both its initial and its final bounds (perfective viewpoint aspect. Recall that these adverbs have been taken to be able to restrict the reference of AS-T or that of EV-T. EV-T is WITHIN or included in AS-T). The standard assumption is that in the simple tenses UT-T may precede (BEFORE). in Smith’s (1991) classification) Time adverbs. this co-indexation indicates that the two times/events overlap or coincide. The proposal put forth by Demirdache&Uribe-Etxebarria. as already mentioned EV-T = AS-T (i. Tense is defined as a relation between AS-T and UT-T. and the time at which the situation denoted by the VP occurs or holds (EV-T/AS-T). as we shall see. temporal clauses (CPs) (while I was reading the book/when he came/since/after she left). for the Perfect forms and the Futurate. in its turn is also a spatio-temporal predicate with the meaning of AFTER (perfect aspect). . which functions as reference/anchoring point. Demirdache&Uribe-Etxebarria. PPs (after/at/ before last week/Christmas).5 Event Time is the time interval at which the situation ‘occurs’ or ‘holds’.e. yesterday) . Here is an example of the way time adverbs can be integrated within the model proposed by Demirdache&Uribe-Etxebarria. 2000) by proposing that Aspect (Asp) and Tense (T) are in fact dyadic predicates of spatio-temporal ordering that take as arguments time-denoting phrases. BEFORE (future) or WITHIN (present). as we have seen is important for the progressive forms and. are taken to be phrases headed by a two-place spatio-temporal predicate representing the temporal structure in the syntax and establishing a relation of inclusion (WITHIN)). BEFORE (prospective aspect) or WITHIN (progressive aspect). In the simple tenses. ASP. while Aspect relates EV-T to AS-T. One such particular case occurs in sentences with morphological tense but without morphological aspect – that is the simple tenses. therefore. The phrase structure for temporal relations looks like: (13) UT-T TP T’ T AspP AS-T Asp’ Asp EV-T VP VP T is a spatio-temporal predicate with the meaning of AFTER (past). precedence (BEFORE) and subsequence (AFTER). The representation in (13) is the syntactic phrase structure of the linear temporal representation given in the chapter on Aspect. follow (AFTER) or be included (WITHIN) in the EV-T/AS-T: • • • UT-T BEFORE EV-T/AS-T = PAST [-ED] UT-T AFTER EV-T/AS-T = FUTURE [WILL] UT-T WITHIN EV-T/AS-T = PRESENT [-S] The discussion so far has tried to highlight the fact that both Tense and Aspect relate two times. In such cases. Whenever ASP (or T) lack morphological content. Tense relates the time of utterance.

is thus ordered after the AST-T/ EV-T . what the preposition does is to restrict the reference of the time span denoted by AS-T (past) to the time designated by the internal argument of the preposition. Co-indexation entails that the event described is portrayed in its entirety –as including both its initial and final bounds. Syntactically. serves to restrict the reference of the event described by the sentence – Susan left -. So.e example 14) AS-T is co-temporal with EV-T. Susan had left London b) UT-T T after . which is assigned the temporal structures in (15b. as already argued . Past Tense orders the UT-T after the AS-T. The AS-T is coindexed (i. since the UT-T in (14b) is located after the AS-T – itself co-temporal with EV-T (perfective aspect). temporally coincides) with EV-T since Asp has no morphological content. hence we get a non-distinct interpretation.e. Since the AS-T is co-temporal with EV-T the PP indirectly provide a location time for the EV-T of the situation described by (14a). i. The preposition has as external argument the AS-T and as internal argument the adverbial NP –midnight. The UT-T. midnight. Consider next the past perfect sentence illustrated in 15(a) below.c): 15) a) a’) TP T’ AspP AS-T AS-T P at c) UT-T T after AS-T TP T’ AspP Asp’ PP DP EV-T VP Asp after Asp’ VP Susan had left London at noon At noon.e.6 Ut-T T after T’ AspP Asp’ PP Asp VP Ass-Ti Ass-Ti P DP at/after/before midnight Ev-Ti VP The example above illustrates the grammar of Past Tense simple. The temporal representation above describes a past event. it functions as a restrictive modifier of a time-denoting expression – the AS-T or EV-T. The PP in (14). In our particular case (i. yielding the past (and perfective) interpretation.

2. perfective interpretation. dynamic event unfolding at UT-T. c) Mary eats an apple. where the time adverb modifies AS-T. (i. It is generally assumed that whenever the time adverb occurs in sentence initial position the time adverb is generally taken to specify AS-T. i.m. Situations reported in the Present enjoy both psychological being at the present moment (Leech. The past and future values ascribed to the Simple Present should be regarded as a composite of tense information. i.m. It can be naturally predicted that the addition of a temporal adverbial will yield two interpretations for (15a) .e.1 The Simple Present Tense and Perfectivity In the previous chapter we argued that. As a consequence. sentences in the simple tense form have a closed. etc).) It is a well-known fact that time adverbs may occur at the end or at the beginning of the sentence.m. This generalization accounts for two of the uses of the indefinite present tense. the Simple Present has a core meaning irrespective of context.e. depending on whether the adverbial modifies the Event Time or the Assertion Time. is an exception to this generalization. Compare the sentences below: (16) a) Mary smokes. lexical aspect and the contribution of adverbs. Hence such a sentence will have the temporal representation in (15b) above. the generic and the habitual use. unlike in other Germanic languages and Romance languages. As such. Susan’s leaving occurred at 7 p. Linguists and grammarians have distinguished among several uses of the indefinite/simple present tense (Leech. generally. In (15b) the time adverb modifies the AS-T. is that ‘present tense sentences may not include the endpoints of situations’. In this case the AS-T and the EV-T are disjoint in reference. The simple present tense. This wide distribution of the Simple Present is not to be regarded as indicative of the polysemy of this temporal form. which is itself ordered by Tense prior to UT-T. the AS-T.7 Asp after VP EV-T EV-T at PP VP DP The past perfect sentence in (15a) (without the time adverbial) presents Susan’s departure as having culminated before a reference time. This constraint is valid for all Germanic and Romance languages but the consequences are different. It is generally assumed that the Simple Present Tense is. A consequence of the above-mentioned constraint for English is that the simple present tense of durative events (activities and accomplishments) cannot be used to refer to one particular instance/ occurrence of the situation denoted by the predicate and have the continuous /imperfective interpretation. These include: • • • • • the generic value.1. (i.e. but not for (15a’)./Maria raucht. from an aspectual point of view all non-stative predicates in the simple present tense recategorize as stative (Smith.m. nevertheless.1 Indefinite Present Tense Sentences. as illustrated in (15b. the preposition AT restricting the time of the event to the interval designated by 7 p. in the Present tense and the perfective viewpoint stative sentences have their normal (open) interpretation (recall that the perfective does not span the endpoints of States) while non-stative verb constellations have a derived habitual/generic interpretation. the instantaneous/reportive value .) In (15c) the time adverb is predicated of the EV-T. which is set at 7 p. Sentences in the Simple Present refer to open situations except for marked uses. a deictic tense. Binnick 1991. Susan’s leaving occurs prior to 7 p. 2. Susan’s departure is presented as having occurred prior to AS-T. the habitual value.e. 1971) and actual being at now. in the sense that the simple present tense is incompatible with perfective (closed) readings. par excellence. 1991). The ‘interpretive’ constraint (to be accounted for below) that affects present tense sentences. the future value or futurate. . 1971. i.e.c). b) Maria fumeaza. the past time (historical) value. the Simple Present places the UT-T within the AS-T/EV-T. in English the simple present tense cannot be used to describe a non-stative.

the present progressive must be used with such predicates. Actually. they may describe one particular occurrence of an ongoing. The sentences are assumed to have a dramatic interpretation having nothing to do with real time.8 d) Maria mananca un mar. respectively. that is they cannot mean that ‘ Mary is presently involved in an event of smoking or eating an apple’.e. Therefore.1. the problems related to the present tense sentences that are to be accounted for are as follows: (a) (b) (c) In English. non-stative predicates obey the following truth-condition postulate (Taylor. as can be noticed. f) mean that a certain state holds of the subject at the Utterance Time./Hannah liebt Johann. this reading is also available for the other Germanic and Romance languages. achievements/semelfactives always denote closed events. following current research. eventive predicates. the continuous /imperfective reading is unavailable in all Germanic and Romance languages: (18) (i) (ii) (iii) Susan finds a book. As far as present tense achievement/semelfactive predicates are concerned. continuous event. In the chapter on ‘Aspect’ we argued. In order to get the ongoing reading in English.e. f) Maria il iubeste pe Ion.e. (ii) Napier takes the ball and runs down the wing. He passes the ball to beats two men. This property holds cross-linguistically.c) above would be habituality5./Maria isst ein Apfel. e) Mary loves John. Moreover. unlike in other Germanic languages and Romance languages. he shoots. English is not different from the other languages as far as the other possible interpretations of the sentences in (16) above are concerned. Consider the following examples borrowed from Georgi&Pianesi (1997:153) and Palmer (1978): (17) (i) In ‘Gone with the wind’ Scarlet writes a letter. The imperfective reading with present tense achievement/semelfactive predicates is unavailable in all Germanic and Romance languages. The Romanian/German sentences allow these readings. To summarize. commenting on Taylor’s (1977) postulate. 5 Recall that the difference between statives and non-statives in the Present tense has been used as a test for stativity. The sentences in (16 e. temporal) properties of its situation type schema’. Maria gaseste o carte.f) where there are no interpretive differences between English and Romanian/German. movie or book or when uttered by a radio commentator. The neutral interpretation one would assign to the English sentences in (16 a. the interval of time normally associated with the event is telescoped to a point. In none of the languages above can the sentences be interpreted as ongoing at Utterance Time. 16 e. observes that if the Utterance Time is conceptualized as a moment then the postulate above predicts that it is impossible to have a deictic present tense with durative. i. Hans findet ein Buch.2. where an event is described as perfective but its time is not directly related to the utterance time . it is non-stative. present tense sentences with an accomplishment or activity predicate can never describe one particular ongoing/ continuous event. Interestingly.e. that non-stative predicates (i. If a constellation has only a habitual action reading with simple (i. i. The impossibility of the simple present tense with the perfective interpretation as a default. Achievements/semelfactives have the lexical property that they are single stage situations. The examples in (16a-d) include predicates belonging to the class of accomplishments and activities and. that is they lack a processual stage. the event is not directly anchored to the utterance time. Attwater More will be said about the availability of this interpretation of the simple present tense in due time. The assumption underlying the conclusion above is that a sentence with ‘the perfective viewpoint’ presents a sentence with the endpoint (i. It’s a goal! Attwater. Dowty (1979:167). then V(x) is only true at an interval larger than one moment.e. Such sentences are grammatical as commentary on a picture. perfective) aspect and Present Tense. Under the instantaneous reading. Of all the examples in (16) it is only the last two (i. Habitual sentences are defined as ‘characterizing’ sentences that describe a generalization over patterns of events. The sentences admit the so-called reportive/instantaneouse reading. According to this analysis the impossibility of an ongoing/continuous reading of a sentence such as Susan sleeps is due to the intrinsic temporal properties of dynamic predicates and to the fact that the utterance time is a point. 2.e. the English sentences cannot have the imperfective /continuous reading. dynamic) in the simple/indefinite present are neutrally interpreted as habitual/generic. . 1977): (19) If V is an activity verb or an accomplishment/achievement verb.

as already mentioned. The argument goes that a word like eat can be categorially ambiguous: it is a ‘naked’ form and can express any of several verbal values. and e has reached the telos’. *Susan saw Mary know the answer. they offer a principled account of the assumptions given above. (in particular the problem concerning the impossibility of English present tense non-stative predicates to have a continuous one-occurrence interpretation) we will adopt a suggestion put forth by Georgi&Pianisi (1997) already hinted at in the previous chapter.6 The [+perf] feature on the verb stems of English non-stative predicates means that such predicates always denote ‘closed situations’. in English. hence it can be viewed as an ‘anchoring event’ and consequently as a ‘punctual event’. In English. Additional evidence in favour of the assumption that verb stems in English always denote closed events comes from the Accusative +Infinite/Participle construction in English. respectively) the ‘bare’ infinitive form allows only a perfective/closed reading. The complement event expressed as a ‘bare/naked’ infinitive is interpreted as closed/bounded/perfective. We give below the ‘interpretive principle’ necessary to understand the ‘Punctuality Constraint’: (21) The anchoring event (Utterance Time or some other reference time in the matrix clause) is punctual (22) Punctuality Constraint A closed event cannot be simultaneous with a punctual event 6 Giorgi & Pianesi argue that the aspectual feature [+perf] is a Lexicon feature that would ‘compensate’ for the lack of explicit inflectional verbal morphology . According to Giorgi&Pianesi (1997) the constraint on the simultaneous/continuous reading of non-stative verbs is aspectual in nature and can be stated in the form of what they call the ‘Punctuality Constraint’. an ‘object’ (N) or ‘action’ (V). which is an event of writing. Activities and achievements may also occur in such constructions with the same interpretation. due to the morphological properties of the English verbs. the first and second person singular and the first. a ‘punctual event’ cannot be ‘decomposed’ into other elementary events. as the examples in (20iii-vi) show. i. Susan saw Mary leave.e. on the other hand. Hence. it is not possible to infer that the essay was eventually written. i. *Susan saw Mary knowing the answer. but not in other languages. the sentence in (20i) means that ‘Susan saw an event e. need not associate the verb with an aspectual feature because of the rich verbal inflectional morphology characterizing this group of languages. Susan saw Mary run. temporally anchors the time of the situation. (where the complement is an accomplishment.e. In the first six sentences above. such as the infinitive (without to). a ‘closed event’ denotes an entity that can be decomposed into a ‘processual part’ (stages) and a ‘boundary’. The important assumptions Giorgi and Pianesi make are : (i) the temporal interpretation of an utterance involves the anchoring of the event denoted by the predicate to the Utterance time. (i) Georgi&Pianisi (1997) propose that. as well as.e. As already argued. closed/perfective events have all the temporal properties of the situation type. while conceptually. In the example in (20ii). Consequently. on the other hand. The lexical entry of verbs in Romance languages will always have a much richer feature bundle that would include inflectional features such as person and number. all eventive (i. second and third person plural. . to the time of the event which consists of the utterance itself. Actually. i.(20i) entails that Susan witnessed the entire act of writing. on the other hand are excluded in such constructions as the examples in (20vii. State predications. In (20i.9 To account for the cross-linguistic differences exemplified in (16) above.e. In the case of verbs this feature is aspectual. Susan saw Mary running. Susan saw Mary writing the essay. (ii) the speech event. Romance languages. non-stative) predicates are associated with the feature (+perf). Punctuality amounts to neglecting temporal structure. In what follows we shall enlarge upon the last two assumptions put forth by Giorgi&Pianesi. the only way to discern nouns from verbs is to identify the characteristic feature that would define the lexical category. it refers to a non-closed/nonbounded/imperfective event. The UT-T. The difference between a ‘closed/perfective event’ and a ‘punctual event’ is that. perception verbs can take two types of complements : either the Acc+‘bare/naked’ infinitive (i.ii) the complement is an accomplishment predicate. the endpoint properties included. Susan saw Mary leaving. (ii) The second assumption put forth by Giorgi& Pianesi is that ‘anchoring’ events are ‘punctual’. activity and achievement predicate. infinitives without to) or Acc+ Present Participle constructions.e.. the verb is in the –ing form . Consider the following examples: (20) (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) (v) (vi) (vii) (viii) Susan saw Mary write the essay. hence they are not conceptualized as having temporal structure. as an anchoring event.viii) indicate. (iii) all eventive predicates in English are lexically characterized as perfective. the agent is Mary. ‘e’ has temporal structure. is conceptualized as punctual. and the theme is an essay. This is necessary in English .

UT-T is punctual. like any anchoring event.Values of the Simple Present Tense. A. the [+perf] simple Present tense form cannot be simultaneous with UT-T. All grammars of English acknowledge that the basic uses/values of the simple present tense are the habitual value and the generic value. for instance. The assumption is presumptuous. The impossibility of a particular continuous/simultaneous reading for simple present tense eventive sentences follows as a consequence of (a) the Interpretive Principle (21) which requires the speech event to always be punctual and (b) the Punctuality Constraint (22) which expresses the general impossibility of punctual events to be simultaneous with closed (+perf) events. In both cases no reference is made to a particular occurrence of a situation or a unique.3./ Mary is clever. UT-T – now AS-T –present (tense morpheme) EV-T co-temporal with AS-T UT-T within AS-T/EV-T …[…… …[…‌…]………]………. Mary smokes/ Mary is clever is provided below: (23) (i) (ii) UT-T Mary smokes. deictic present is legitimate with state predicates alone. describing ‘one particular occurrence’ of the situation denoted by the predicate. the conflict between the punctuality of the Utterance time (viewed as a speech event) and the closure of the event denoted by the predicate does not arise. in these sentences.10 The Interpretive Principle (21) and the Punctuality Constraint (22) very nicely accommodate the habitual/generic reading of non-stative predicates in the simple present tense. The question that arises is whether we need to distinguish between the two. since the examples in . The acceptability of habituals/generics (generalizations over events/properties) is due to the fact that.> EV-T / AS-T 2. and some Germanic languages as well. naturally. In Romance languages. consisting in the ascription of a property to a subject . as a consequence the progressive form must be used whenever we want the sentence to denote a particular ongoing/continuous event . as processual or bounded). (recall the truth-condition and the temporal schema associated with States) hence they can be simultaneous with the punctual anchoring event.e. in English. the event expressed by the present is not viewed as closed/perfective and. with dynamic.1. To put it differently. to say the least. habituals being understood as asserting the occurrence of a series of events of the same kind which include the Utterance Time. hence. According to Giorgi and Pianesi a habitual sentence only requires that UT-T be a temporal part of the interval where the habit holds. examples in (25). The sentences below exemplify the two uses: (24) a) (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) (i) (ii) (iii) (i) (ii) (iii) Cats are widespread The cat is widespread *A cat is widespread Milk is good for the bones Tigers eat meat The tiger eats meat A tiger eats meat A lion has a bushy tail Lions have a bushy tail The lion has a bushy tail b) c) (25) (i) My brother/Michael drinks wine with his dinner (ii) The milkman calls every Monday/on Mondays We have argued so far that non-stative predicates in the simple present tense in English will (always) result in a habitual reading of the simple present tense (cf. non-stative eventualities the progressive form is necessary.e.The generic/habitual value Our next step is to try and give a logical account of the uses/values of the simple present tense identified by grammarians and linguists in the course of time. can be simultaneous with punctual anchoring events. definite moment of time. or ‘characterizing’ sentences. The temporal aspectual interpretation of present tense sentences like. i. since in both cases the sentences in the present tense are dubbed by linguists as ‘categorical’ sentences. As far as inherent statives are concerned they are not conceptualized as closed (i. with an imperfective reading. since the event denoted by the verb has internal temporal properties which are incompatible with the punctuality of the anchoring event.

(ii) I persuaded Mary to play tennis every Friday. the habitual sentences (25) are mostly based on eventive predicates. or. (iv)My wife always comes to watch me when I play for England. (v)My sister smokes. habitual sentences do not have all the syntactic characteristics of basiclevel states. etc) that would support the habitual reading. as in (25) or (26) below: (26) (i) The milkman calls every Monday/on Mondays (ii) I buy my dresses at Harrods (iii) We eat very little bread. between generic and habitual sentences? Moreover.3. sometimes. i. From an aspectual point of view. He shows that the distinction between the two types of predicates has ramifications in the grammar of English. embedding under verbs like persuade. although the predicates qualify aspectually as nonstative predicates. That means (roughly) that generic sentences state that a particular property or relation expressed by the predicate holds true of the entity denoted by the subject noun phrase. sentences that are true by virtue of the meaning of the terms. In certain contexts (see examples in 24a). it is really not a property that individual’s current stage has at that moment that makes them true. The examples illustrate some of these features: (27) (i) What Mary does is play tennis every Friday. there seems to be a very strong interrelation between the generic interpretation of the noun phrases and the generic reading of the verb phrase (ultimately the clause/the sentence) . they apply to an object level individual. individuals). Lately.g. generic sentences (see 24a-c) are based on either basic eventive verbs or basic lexical states describing relatively stable properties of their subject nominals . habitual sentences are good with agent-oriented adverbials. as we can see.e. They are described as ‘characterizing’ sentences. an important aspect of generic sentences has been related to the use of the generic present. . the examples in (24a) and (24c) are basic stative predicates and they are also characterized as generic. in particular eventive predicates. These are the questions that we would like to answer in the next subchapter. habitual sentences . Individual level predicates denote relatively stable/permanent properties. ‘timeless truths’ or ‘omnipresent’ sentences. Generic sentences are commonly viewed as analytical sentences. if there is any. frequency may be expressed by a plural or mass noun in object position.e. never. are based on predicates that are basically characterized as stage-level predicates. The subject noun phrase denotes kind-level (24a) or object-level individuals (24b) It is already a well-known fact that traditional grammars labeled generic sentences as ‘universal/eternal truths’. they express dispositions.1. Nevertheless. every day. For a long time. We can truthfully assert that John is in the habit of smoking if we have identified a “suitable number” of past occasions on which John’s stage-smoking was true. Stage-level predicates speak of events and occurrences that have a distinctly temporal tenor (i. usually. describing transitory/nonpermanent properties or situations. who participates in the pattern of events. Generally speaking. but our ‘total experience’ with previous stages of that individual.g.e. from the point of view of their time specification they do not specify a particular moment or interval of time. Stage level predicates apply to stages of individuals. it has been shown that this distinction appears widely in language constituting covert grammatical categories in some languages (e. So what is the difference. Thus. also known as derived statives.11 (24 b i-iii) do not have a ‘habitual reading’ but rather a ‘generic’ reading. The predicates underlying habitual sentences are dynamic predicates at the basic level of classification but their temporal schemata are stative: they consist of an undifferentiated period rather than successive stages. In most sentences there is a frequency adverb (e. since they denote generalizations over events of the same type over a period of time. Habitual sentences are semantically stative. On the other hand. they describe situations that are restricted in time and space). i. The predicates so differentiated are selective as far as the type of referents to which they apply is concerned. As Dowty (1979) observes: ‘ Even when we predicate them of an individual at a particular time.e. sometimes. on Mondays. appearance in pseudo-cleft do sentences and imperatives. . We are already familiar with the distinction between stage-level and individual-level predicates due to Carlson (1977). In general. verbs that may take the progressive form refer to stage-level interpretations of their subject nominals. What is actually meant by these ‘labels’ is the fact that they are ‘ a-temporal’. interrelation that will be apparent in the presentation that follows. Such a broad and pragmatically vague interval presumably also includes a number of future instances of John’s stage property of smoking’ (Dowty 1979:279). 2. a few more subtle distinctions are to be taken into consideration. as Smith (1991:42) remarks. which means that the UT-T is placed within the AS-T/EV-T. The contribution of the Simple Present in generic sentences amounts to specifying that the state is valid/holds ‘now’. Individuallevel predicates select object-level and kind-level individuals (i. indicating a potential for an individual (object-level) to have stage properties. Chinese) (Smith 1991).

g.e. genericity can be identified with ‘reference to kind’ and the NPs used are kind-referring NPs or sometimes called generic NPs7. ‘dispositional’ ‘general’ or ‘habitual’. on the other hand. they are non-sortals). Carlson. Characterizing sentences put no limitation on what types of NPs may occur in them. namely characterizing sentences or simply generic sentences. The examples in (28) report a kind of general property of individuals that constitute members (object-level individuals) of the kind. Often this is expressed explicitly by an adverbial such as: usually. repeated under (28) for convenience. possess. kinds can be here and there ( they are continuous in space. The sentences in (23a) above are instances of this type of genericity. etc. Chierchia 1995:6) (29) 7 (i) My brother/Michael drinks wine with his dinner (ii) Italians drink wine with their dinner We are already familiar with the distinction made by Carlson (1977) between individuals (that may be objects or kinds) and stages of individuals (spatiotemporal slices of individuals). Other common terms for characterizing sentences are ‘gnomic’. and represents the second type of genericity. i. Both ‘habitual/generic sentences’. whereas normal individuals (object-level individuals) are generally confined to one location at a given time ( they are bound in space.e. etc. cost. Nevertheless. intuitively. love. come in all sizes. et al.12 Linguists (e. Link. These NPs refer rigidly to a kindlevel individual and the predicate attributes a property to it that cannot be distributed to the members of the kind. definite singular NPs and mass nouns. i. where the predicate ‘have a bushy tail/eat meat’ occurs. be in short supply. read. (Dahl 1975). the predicates in the examples in (28i-iii) are basic state predicates. For a complete characterization see also Ileana Baciu. Kind referring NPs are NPs that may co-occur with kind-level predicates such as: die out. know. Kind-level individuals have certain peculiarities as compared to more normal individuals. while those in (28ivvi) are dynamic predicates. they make singular statements about a particular kind. Given the variety of NPs in characterizing sentences. show: (28) (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) (v) (vi) Lions have a bushy tail The lion has a bushy tail A lion has a bushy tail Tigers eat meat The tiger eats meat A tiger eats meat It is not difficult to notice that the predicates qualify as basic stage level predicates re-categorized as individual level predicates. basically.g. Functional Categories in English.e. the latter lack an episodic reading and while the former generalize over events. Hence.e. laugh. as they express generalizations. In point of eventuality type. not indefinite NPs. etc) and the so-called ‘lexical’ characterizing sentences which are related to inherently state predicates (have a bushy tail. but as the example in (24a iii) above indicates. generally. An important property of characterizing sentences is that they may be true even when there are members of the kind which fail to have the property expressed by the predicate. etc………therefore lions have a bushy tail/eat meat. to any particular cats at all. according to Zemach (1975). etc) generalize over patterns of events/properties . 1995:2) claim that generic sentences are ‘ true of some particular entities’ . all traditional grammars mention indefinite NPs as one of the expressions that may occur in ‘generic sentences’ as the examples in (24b. they are not ‘descriptive’ generalizations but ‘normative‘ ones. (Krifka. Such statements are known in the literature as the characteristic kind of predication (CKP) (Ter Meulen 1995) or i-generics (i.c). they are sortals. Characterizing generic sentences are stative sentences (they may be related to inherently stative predicates or derived stative predicates (i. inherent or analytic (Nunberg and Pan 1975). we could not paraphrase (23a (i)) as ‘ Puffy is widespread. Pelletier. own. have. Duffy has a bushy tail/eats meat . Krifka. 8 In the sentences in (23a) we have the intuition that the truth or falsity of the statements has nothing whatsoever to do with predicating widespread or everywhere. One important characteristic of this type of generic statements is that the predicate (VP) may be progressive. the latter generalize over properties. they state properties that are essential. They are characterized as being ‘descriptive’ generalizations. Characterizing sentences were assumed not to express accidental properties (e. be widespread. indefinite NPs.e. Duffy is widespread. definite NPs. attributing a gradual change in a property to a kind (e. Elephants are dying out (Ter Meulen 1995:346)). be extinct. Kind-denoting (generic) NPs may also occur in characterizing sentences (see 28) and the sentences describe a general/essential or default property which holds for the specimens (i. unlike d-generics. indefinite NPs are not considered kind-referring expressions (i. Habitual sentences will be taken to be included within the class of characterizing generic sentences. be common. according to Zemach (1975). Kind referring expressions are bare plurals. quantified NPs. On the other hand. they cannot function as names for kinds). indefinite/non-specific) (Krifka 1987). we have the intuition that the truth or falsity of the statement somehow involves the predication of having a bushy tail/eating meat to particular lions. the difference between the two is that while the former have an episodic counterpart. be indigenous to/in short supply/everywhere. We can find proper names.e. necessary. 1995:358)) or definite (or specific) generics (D-generics) (Krifka 1987). i. for instance. namely kinds. inherently dynamic/stage level predicates coerced into statives). the suggestion is that this type of genericity should be analyzed as a sui generis type of sentence. With the examples in (23 b.Dahl 1975 among others). bare plural NPs.c).8 Such statements have been called particular/proper kind predications (PKP) (Ter Meulen. .g. always. weigh. fear. Again.therefore cats are widespread’ .. 2004. Link. That is to say. smoke. 1995: 345. in intuitive terms we might think that: ‘Puffy has a bushy tail/eats meat.……. (see examples in (29)) which are related to dynamic verbal predicates (drink. object level individuals) of the kind.e.

as well as. these NPs cannot be considered ‘kind-referring’ or ‘generic’ in and of themselves. In such cases these predicates are interpreted. what this actually amounts to is that the situation denoted by the predicate is interpreted as simultaneous with UT-T. To utter these sentences is to perform the acts reported by the predicate. My dog chases cars. proper names. A new broom sweeps clean. reportives of the dramatic. Another condition for the felicitous use of these sentences is that ‘the particular persons and circumstances in a given case must be appropriate for the invocation of the particular procedure involved’ (Austin 1961:34). London stands on the Thames. i. He who laughs last. it is characteristic of performative statements to occur in the first person singular/plural and to permit the insertion of hereby in front of the verb. I declare the meeting open/adjourned/closed We accept your offer. i. generic bare plural NPs and definite NPs will be interprepreted as having a specific reading. reflecting the special . Hydrogen is the lightest element Oil floats on water. Smooth waters run deep.e. Mist and cloud usually render it impossible to see the sun rise from the sea. This use of the Simple Present Tense contrasts with the habitual/generic use in that it describes a particular occurrence of an event. prescriptive statements. With indefinite NPs. The term ‘generic’ sentence will be taken to refer to both types of generic phenomena. sportscaster’s type (Smith 1991). The instantaneous present is found in asseverations that use what are known as performative verbs. kindreferring expressions refer to a specific type of individual. sometimes’ that lead to law-like characterizing sentences.e. quantified NPs the locus of genericity is not in the NP but rather in the sentence itself. performatives. The general assumption is that this value is a marked use of the perfective viewpoint in Present sentences (Smith 1991:241). Such sentences constitute reports of instantaneous events. this being part of the conditions on the use of such statements. there are certain elements that may enforce a characterizing. laughs best. since they are kind-referring expressions. The above discussion has attempted to stress the fact that the locus of genericity can be found both at the level of the NP and at the level of the clause. ‘often’. With bare plural NPs and definite NPs related to kind-level predicates. I promise to help you I resign. although as we have seen there are differences between the two types. the event announced and the act of announcement are one. Water boils at 100 degrees Celsius In chess. law-like. This type of genericity is independent of verbal predicates. geographical statements. hence. the locus of genericity is at the level of the respective NPs. and. B. according to some grammarians. Sentences including perception predicates are also used in the Simple Present. It would be more correct to speak of performative sentences. i. The contexts that favor a characterizing generic reading are as follows: definitions. I pronounce you man and wife. Under the instantaneous reading there is a telescoping of the interval of time normally associated with the event to a point. generic reading such as adverbs like ‘generally’. the predicates may be both states and non-states and the contribution of the Simple Present is essential. Such sentences include perception and mental Achievements. aspectually. as the examples in (23 a) show. The temporal characteristic of performative sentences is straightforward: the utterance time and the event time are simultaneous. proverbs.13 (iii) Every Italian drinks wine with his dinner (iv) An Italian drinks wine with his dinner As already mentioned. since these verbs behave performatively only under some restrictive conditions that will be apparent in the sentences below: (31) (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) (v) (vi) (vii) I hereby christen this ship ‘Queen Mary’. as achievements. The Severn flows into the Atlantic. Syntactically. I deny the charge. is another value/use of the Simple Present Tense. in the predicate. A symphony has four movements An Italian loves opera music. ’typically’.The Instantaneous/Reportive Simple Present Tense .e. habituals: (30) (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) (v) (vi) (vii) (viii) (ix) (x) (xi) (xii) (xiii) (xiv) An apple a day keeps the doctor away. ‘usually’. bishops move diagonally. They get a ‘generic’ interpretation only when occurring in characterizing (generic/habitual) sentences.. namely kinds. namely verbs that themselves form part of the activity they report.

As many linguists and grammarians have noticed before. reportive sentences telescope time.. such as the eyewitness broadcasts of sportscasters. Mourning Becomes Electra) (ii)In ‘Gone with the wind’ Scarlet writes a letter. then the past tense is required. as well as in the stage directions of play scripts. Attwater beats two men. focus on present existence of works created in the past. (Eugene O’Neill. (iv) I place a bell jar over the candle. Smith (1991:153): (32) (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) (v) I see the moon. (v) There goes the bus/ Up she goes/Down she falls. in favour of France. grammarians often include this use under the past time value of the Simple Present) refers to specific completed or terminated events. There are some elements of the linguistic context that may help us distinguish between the two readings: habituality/genericity may be indicated by a bare plural object/subject. It’s a goal! (ii) …he gets it in to Hewlett and he’s fouled immediately by Malnati and… the rebound goes to Joe May. book. He passes the ball to Attwater. radio commentators. Huddleston & Pullum 2002: 130) that instantiate the contexts of use just mentioned: (34) (i) Seth and Minnie come forward as far as the lilac clump…She nudges Minnie with his elbow. a movie). informal commentaries with preposed locatives are other instances of the instantaneous use of the Simple Present: (33) (i) Napier takes the ball and runs down the wing. Yes. Giorgi and Pianesi. chronicles of history. or reports of conjurors and demonstrators. Consider the examples below. but its time is not (directly) related to the speech event. borrowed from C. newspaper captions. Stefanescu 1988:253. (iv) Like Rubens. the co-extensiveness between the time of utterance and the time of the situation is subjective rather than objective: the events are presented as simultaneous with the utterance time even if strictly speaking they are not. living flesh by the merest whiff of colour. and after a few moments the water gradually rises. regardless of their normal duration. The commentaries are restricted to a limited range of contexts where the speaker is specifically assigned the role of commentator. By contrast. As Smith (1991) and Huddleston & Pullum (2002) remark. photographs. we can talk about it from the perspective of their present and potentially permanent existence rather than that of their past creation.14 immediacy of perception. 1998:153. The dramatic framework gives one license to telescope duration so that completion can take place in a single point in time’. now I remember! Running commentaries and demonstrations. The dramatic use of Simple Present sentences (also labelled as the ‘timeless’ use or ‘imaginary’ use. The event denoted by the predicate is described as perfective.TV programmes (in sentences introduced by ‘in DP’ where DP refers to a book. (iii) Look. drawings can give a permanence to what would otherwise be a transient historical occurrence. Compare the sentences below: 9 In the previous subchapters we have extensively argued that the perfective interpretation is excluded for present tense sentences . sentences without a frequency adverb may receive a specific/existential or generic interpretation depending on context and world knowledge. We understand them punctually. I take this card from the pack and place it under the handkerchief – so. Such sentences are also grammatical with an Accomplishment or Activity predicate and have a dramatic flavor. (v) Aboriginal protesters occupy part of the old Parliament House in Camberra yesterday . he shoots. (iii) In the Brothers Karamazov Dostoevsky draws his characters from the sources deep in the Russian soil. Reports of mental Achievements are also of the same type. recipes.(photographic caption) (vi) Roman soldiers nail Jesus onto the Cross (description of a painting) (vi) 1434 Cosimo de Medici begins his family’s control of Florence 1435 Congress Arras: Burgundians withdraw support from England. Smith (1976:573)) argues that ‘…the reason that a dramatic interpretation is plausible is that dramatic readings. A very important remark is in order here. have nothing to do with real time. Below are some examples (borrowed from different sources: Smith 1991:154. Likewise. Watteau is able to convey an impression of warm. as though the events take only an instant. such statements are found in certain definable contexts such as a commentary (synopses) on a picture. captions in newspapers and to illustrations in books. 9 This a-temporal status of such sentences require the dramatic interpretation. In these cases. when we are concerned with the act of creation itself. These dramatic. I see! I understand. by definition. When discussing an artist and his surviving work. I feel the current of the river Oh. while an instantaneous reading can be rendered by means of an indefinite or definite object/subject or by an instantaneous perception verb like ‘Look’. movie.

. but Lady Randolph begins to her confidante the circumstances of her early life. Some grammarians (e.15 (35) a) Swallows fly higher than doves (generic) a) Look. It is considered that this might also be regarded as a metaphorical extension of the reportive use of the present tense: (40) (i) UN aid reaches the stricken Bosnian town of Srebrenica (ii) Trade Unions seek assurances A different kind of historical present is found with ‘verbs of communication’ as in the examples below (borrowed from Leech. Consider the following excerpt from Bleak House by Dickens: (37) Mr Tulkinghorn glances over his spectacles and begins again lower down. Dickens. 2002. (ii) There was I playing so well even I couldn’t believe it and along comes this kid and keeps me off the table for three frames. future) to the present. The first was she had made a private marriage…. and Huddleston &Pullum. the Simple Present performs its usual function. Poutsma (1926) remarks that shifting from the past to present is often practiced in picturing a series of incidents and circumstances which is to serve as a background for the representation of subsequent events. the swallows fly higher than the doves. actually) to make the narrative appear more vivid by assimilating it to the here and now of the speech event. It is customary for novelists and story-writers to use the Past Tense to describe imaginary/fictional events. 1976:7. This use of the simple present tense can be viewed as a metaphorical use.g. in narratives. Huddleston&Pullum 2002:131) include here another context in which the present tense extends into past time territory. the shift of temporal perspective may not only be from the past to the present but also from the post-present (i. being priceless but small. 2002:131): 10 Examples of writers employing the present tense in fiction writing would be Camus. a) Carter’s dog chases cars.e. whereby past happenings are portrayed or imagined as if they were going on at the present time. namely it places the UT-T within the AS-T. telling me the boss wants to see me in an hurry. It happens that the fire is hot where my Lady sits and that the handscreen is more beautiful than useful. Thomas Mann. to mention just a few. 1933 etc). The Present Tense is used for past time situations in informal conversational narration or in fiction. An example would be the following excerpt from Thackeray’s The Virginians: (38) His lordship had no sooner disappeared behind the trees of the forest. a) He scores goals. with apparent incongruity. The texts beneath the headlines use past tenses but in headlines the Simple Present is shorter and more vivid. What is past is the time of the described situation. transposition into the fictional present is a device of dramatic heightening. I can see it happen before me: John sets out his plans. 1976. Mary disagrees. b) He scores a goal. spoken or written. while EV-T precedes AS-T/UT-T. In such cases. they start shouting at each other and in no time there is a terrible row. as in the examples in (37) below. According to a wide number of grammarians (Huddleston and Pullum. a device conventionally used (in a wide number of languages. Some writers10 deviate from normal practice and use the Present in imitation of the popular historical present of spoken narrative. the ‘historical present’ is best treated as a story-teller’s licence. by an adverbial indicating past time or it may alternate with a Past Tense form. Leech. Joyce Cary. Sir Leicester in a great chair looks at the fire and appears to have a stately liking for the legal repetitions and prolixities as ranging among national bulwarks. There are cases when the use of the present tense alternates with the simple past tense. (habitual) b) There’s a red car whizzing down the road and Carter’s dog chases it. as in the example below: (39) I can well imagine what will happen. C. Simple Present referring to Past (Historical present) The Present Tense can also be used in reference to the past. namely ‘news headlines’. My Lady carelessly and scornfully abstracts her attention. borrowed from Leech (1976) and Huddleston & Pullum. Declerck (1991:69) notes that. Jespersen. Consider the examples below. (2002): (36) (i) At that moment in comes a messenger from the Head Office. Thackerey . George Elliot. it puts the reader in the place of someone actually witnessing the events as they are described. I’ve seen it happen often enough to know that it is going to end like this.. Very often the present tense is accompanied.

since the sentence conveys that the result itself has already been arranged. it does not contain adjuncts or temporal specification. The main clause is assumed to provide the evidence for believing or entertaining this content. i. It is generally assumed that with the Simple Present the arrangement is felt to be an i mpersonal or collective one./The Chancellor makes his budget speech tomorrow afternoon/We start for Istanbul tonight. by a committee. etc. scheduled. tell. The use of the Present in (44ii) is unnatural.16 (41) (i)The ten o’clock news says that it’s going to be cold. (iii) When the spring comes . According to Huddleston & Pullum (2002) the use of the Present Tense to report past time occurrences serves to background the communication occurrences themselves and to foreground their content. The fact that the Simple Present still means ‘present’ is rendered clear by the possibility of having different time specifications within he same clause. start. (ii)I hear we are getting some new neighbours. The set of examples in (43i) reflect the use of the Simple Present for recurrent events whose time of occurrence can be scientifically calculated./Jeeves will announce the guests as they arrive. 2002): (43) (i) Tomorrow is Sunday. Huddlestone and Pullum. as the examples below (42) indicate (H&P 2002:133): (42) The match now starts next Monday.e./Next Christmas falls on a Thursday/The next high tide is around 4 this afternoon/When is the next full moon? (ii) The next Kevin Costner film opens at the Eldorado on Saturday. The presence of the present tense morpheme has immediate consequences on the interpretation of the future situation assigning it a high degree of certainty. meet. it attributes to the future the same degree of certainty that we normally accord to present or past events (Leech 1971: 60). i.e. for example. The two adjuncts specify different time intervals: now specifies UT-T/AS-T while next Monday specifies the time of the future situation. EV-T. that is to say that the clause must involve something that can be assumed to be known already in the present./When do the lectures end this year?/She is president until next May/Her case comes before the magistrate next week./If you don’t do better next time you are fired/Either he plays according to the rules or he doesn’t play at all/I’ll tell you if it hurts. the swallows will return. The Simple Present may be used to describe future situations . Consider the examples below borrowed from different sources (Leech 1971. expressed in the subordinate clause. gather. The verbs most commonly used are: say. D. the simple present is not used for future weather since such events are not conceived of as being within the domain of what is known (Huddlestone and Pullum. According to grammarians. come. It is to be noted that .D. In the example above the present tense morpheme and the adverb now give the time of the arrangement or schedule. This entails that the futurate construction is subject to severe constraints among which we mention the following: (i) (ii) (iii) the presence of future time adverbials. as I said in my letter.Present Tense with Future value ( the Futurate) . hear. The most widely used predicates belong to the class of non-durative event verbs in particular verbs of directed motion such as go. Weather forecasts are rendered by means of ‘going to’ or ‘shall/will’ In (43ii) we have examples that describe situations that have already been arranged. (iv)I gather from Angela that you’re short of money again. not Tuesday. verbs referring to the productive or receptive end of the process of communication Given that the main clause is backgrounded. a court of law or some un-named authority. the aspectual type of the situation (state predicates are excluded in such sentences ) and. leave. hence it can be included under what is currently known. the most common uses involve : (i) (ii) (iii) statements about the calendar or cyclic events. The element of current schedule or arrangement is seen in the contrast in (44) below (Huddlestone and Pullum. (iii)Your correspondent A. last but not least the future situation is determinable from the state of the world now. writes in the issue of February 1st that…. end. 2002:132): (44) (i) (ii) Australia meets Sweden in the Davis Cup final in December ???Australia beats Sweden in the Davis Cup final in December The sentence in (44i) is quite natural in a context where Australia and Sweden have already qualified for the final. made. aspectual verbs such as begin. The primary purpose is therefore to impart this content or to seek confirmation of it. By contrast. understand i. inform.e. scheduled events (regarded as unalterable) and subordinate clauses introduced by conditional and adverbial conjunctions. 2002:132).

the Simple Past Tense . while the addition of a frequency adverbial like regularly or whenever I have the time yields a habitual interpretation. I thought once he would marry. More often than not this past time interval is explicitly stated by locating or frame time adverbials (deictic. at noon. a time which precedes the Time of Utterance (i. then I predict Y’. Leech (1976:9) remarks that ‘There are two elements of meaning involved in the commonest use of the Past Tense. Simple Past Tense Sentences The Simple Past Tense (or Preterite. formally represented by the morpheme – ed . A conditional sentence. referential and anaphoric) like: yesterday. at the time of utterance. To sum up. this Monday/week/month. The glacier moved only about 50 meters during the last century . This specific time in the past is characteristically named by an adverbial expression accompanying the Past Tense verb. but such an interpretation is natural for (45ii) which can refer to a doing of the crossword as readily as to habitual doing of the crossword. with the endpoint properties of the situation types). come in different forms: PP (at five. Consider the example below: (46) I lived in London. (Leech 1971:60). Present: habitual reading (ii) I did ‘The Times’ crossword. at 5 o’clock. The Deictic/existential value As already mentioned. i. is primarily used to express that a situation is located at a past interval of time. 2002) : (45) (i) I do ‘The Times” crossword. two minutes/days/months ago. CP (after/before John arrived. yesterday. Curme (1931:357) remarked that “……if this [tense form] is employed. has the structure ‘If X is a fact. AS-T=EV-T) Dynamic events in the simple past are not as severely constrained as events in the Simple Present.[………. In the Simple Past the situations described may refer to one particular occurrence of that situation – an existential reading. so that the idea of indefiniteness or generality is entirely excluded’. In the dependent clauses mentioned. I misplaced my glasses a moment ago and can’t find them. is located at a past interval of time . but a fact that is given. the events are viewed as perfective (i. as it is sometimes called). relative to the moment of utterance now). when. Hence. Another element of meaning is:’ the speaker has a definite time in mind. for instance. experience and past performances of the team.e. This also confirms the importance of adverbs and context in selecting the intended reading. A. Traditional grammars have identified different values or uses of the Simple Past tense. the simple past tense sentence is interpreted as perfective (i. after/before breakfast). From an aspectual point of view.17 subjective certainty is not enough. Together with the tense of the predication. Sentences including a state predication in the Simple Past Tense (perfective aspectually) are flexible in interpretation (depending on context): such sentences may convey an open interpretation or a closed interpretation. (i.]. Aspectually.e. the happening referred to is not a prediction. The addition of a locating/deictic adverb like yesterday induces a dynamic/existential interpretation. but has its base in a contrast of meaning. knowing the skill. 2. last week). last week. which are deictically interpreted.e. a time which precedes the Time of Utterance. The use of the Simple Present in (43iii) is not just a requirement of the syntactic pattern. viewed as closed. greater importance attaches to adjuncts and context in selecting between the two readings. on Easter Monday. One basic element of meaning is: ‘the happening takes place before the present moment. Compare the examples below ( Huddlestone and Pullum. locating or otherwise. which are given below. . NP/DP ( once. Past: existential or habitual reading The interpretation in (45i) as a dynamic/existential situation is ruled out.2. or to a series of events of the same type – a habitual reading . Hence. With the Past Tense.( Leech 1971:60). In this case the Past Tense is used as an absolute tense.e. UT-T AFTER AS-T/EV-T). that it attributes to the future the same degree of certainty that we normally accord to present or past events. and the value or use is known as the deictic/existential value/use. i. What this means is that the time of the event/situation need not wholly coincide with AS-T. therefore. the use of the Simple Present with Future value is appropriate to indicate that the consequence of the condition being fulfilled it is inevitable or already decided.e. when she left). Consider the examples below: (47) (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) Haydn was born in 1732. but if we expand it to ‘I already lived here in London at that time’ we get an interpretation where I still live in London.’ As already mentioned time adverbs. the key to the Simple Present with Future value is that it represents FUTURE AS FACT. as in (43iii). one might feel certain about the result of the match but this does not sanction the Simple Present. in September/1986.e. once. The temporal/aspectual representation is UT-T after AS-T/EV-T. tomorrow. these adverbs contribute to the specification of the AS-T/EV-T. the content of the event or state located on the past time axis is recollected. In these contexts the Past Tense is interpreted as a specific tense with existential value. This means that the present moment is excluded. If we add an expression like ‘ in those days’ the interpretation would be that I no longer live in London. the time of the act must be stated accurately or indicated clearly by the context. is primarily used to express that a situation.

The described event is viewed in its entirety. from two to four. the ET-T precedes UT-T. six weeks. i. June 10. the event is portrayed in its entirety – as including its initial and final bounds (perfective aspect). last week. The event designated by the VP occurred within the time span indicated by the time adverb ... but they are not introduced by an overt preposition. Notice that bare NP adverbs like yesterday. These adverbs do not as such locate the situation but rather specify the duration/the temporal size or the boundaries of the AS-T/EV-T.> yesterday AS-T=EV-T BEFORE CHRISTMAS AS-T/EV-T UT-T …[. The PP further restricts the reference of the AS-T (=EV-T) by locating the time span within the time designated by the expression 1732/beforeChristmas/yesterday. In this case the relation established between AS-T and the time designated by the time adverb is a relation of non-central coincidence as illustrated above. i. Prepositions like BEFORE/AFTER also restrict the reference of AS-T. Notice that this analysis explains why in a Simple Past Tense sentence.18 The aspectual-temporal representation of deictic Past Tense sentences is given in (48) below. from 1924. The adverbial restricts the reference of the past time event. for a moment.e.T after AS-T. Simple Past Tense predication types also occur with duration adverbials.e. from its initial to its final boundary. such as: for two weeks.. The role of the preposition is to order the two time denoting arguments. EV-T temporally coincides with AS-T (i. The representation shows that the past tense morpheme orders the UT-. Since Aspect has no morphological content. on) the ordering relation is one of central coincidence. They are integrated in the model by assuming that they are concealed PPs headed by a silent preposition (Ø) expressing central coincidence. as a consequence. the PP ultimately serves to provide the location time for the event described by Haydn be born/ I meet Susan. yesterday). are locating adverbs as well. since the UT-T is ordered after the AS-T.e AST/EV-T and the time adverb (Christmas. In (49) below the adverb in three weeks specifies the duration of the event described by the VP Howard read the book.………]…[…………]……[……]…. In sum. until 2001.> CHRISTMAS P DP in 1732 EV-Ti before X-mas Ø yesterday VP The syntactic temporal-aspectul representation of the sentences shows that the situation occurred within an interval located in the past. in our particular case AS-T/EV-T since AS-T and EV-T are co-temporal: (48) (a) Haydn was born in 1732 (i) (ii) UT-T after AS-T AST = EV-T UT-T after AS-T/EV-T EV-T/AS-T UT-T …[……………[……………]……]…[……]…› in 1732 (b) I met Susan yesterday/ before Christmas EV-T/AS-T UT-T (iii) AS-T = EV-T (iv) UT-T after AS-T/EV-T (v) TP` UT-T T after AS-Ti AS-Ti PP Asp T’ AspP Asp’ VP …. In the case of the preposition IN (or at. The preposition IN specifies the duration of the event described by the VP Howard read the book by establishing a relation of central coincidence between the AS-T/EV-T and the time span denoted by three weeks. this Monday/year/week. because the AS-T coincides with the EVT. the event described is contained within the time designated by the time adverb . The UT-T is ordered by the Past Tense morpheme after AS-T/EV-T: (49) (i) Howard read the book in three weeks EV-T/AS-T UT-T .itself co-temporal with EV-T (expressed by co-indexation).[……[…………]……]……[……]……. EV-T=AS-T) which means that the entire situation is viewed in its entirety from its initial to its final boundary. 1932.. in two hours.

Another case in which a Simple Past Tense sentence can occur without a temporal adverb includes sentences like the following: (51) Joan has received a proposal of marriage.g.e. Beside its deictic/existential usage. I have tasted lobster once. where how. She was tired.extra-linguistic this time . (52) I can’t remember where I bought that vase. Golding’s “Lord of the Flies”: (55) She sat at the window watching the evening invade the avenue. It took us completely by surprise. why it occurred or who was involved in the situation. – You mean he resigned? – No. I have been making inquiries. (used to be) In all these contexts the Past Tense is characterized as being indefinite or rather non-specific and its value is existential. etc) The examples above are similar to the ones below in the sense that it is context again . Finally. the Simple Past Tense can be used without a definite specification when a comparison is drawn between present and past conditions (paraphrasable by ‘used to’): (54) (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) England is not what it was (what it used to be) Even dogs are not what they were (what they used to be) Life is not so pleasant as it was (as it used to be) He is not so active as he was. I have seen him already.19 (ii) …[…………………]…[……]…. and in her nostrils was the color of dusty cretonne. Here are three examples of which the first constitute the opening paragraphs of J. (Fenn 1987:175) How did you break your arm? When did your father leave for England? down an elevator shaft in In some cases the situation described by the sentence is uniquely identifiable for the simple reason that it is unique. but I didn’t like it. I’ve seen him today.. he was thrown Goodge Street. when.. Just tell me how you did it. The situations narrated happened before the moment of speech but this moment is not given and has to be identified as part of the information associated with the way narratives function. this time last year). was leaning against the . Hindenburg directed German strategy during World War I. Her head window curtains. Joyce’s “Eveline” and W. the Present Perfect is used to introduce an event that took place sometime before the moment of speech.that allows for the use of the Past Tense. For a full interpretation of such sentences the hearer is supposed to be familiar with the referents of the relevant NPs: (53) (i) (ii) (iii) Byron died in Greece. the Simple Past Tense is used non-deictically and without a temporal adverb in the narrative mode. He’s not with us any more. Narrative value. Christopher Columbus discovered the New World.> 3 weeks Time adverbial specification may be missing in a Past Tense sentence in those cases in which the adverbial can be inferred from the larger linguistic context: (50) Susan: This time last year I was in London. B. Howard: How curious! I was there too. which is thus uniquely identified. Howard’s’s answer is correct without a Past Tense adverbial because the missing adverb can be equated with the adverb mentioned in the preceding sentence (i. or sentences that provide further details concerning a previously mentioned situation require the use of the Past Tense. Stefanescu 1988. It was not difficult. Fenn (1987: 168) calls this ‘occurrence focus’. In such contexts. (Leech 1971. He came to borrow a hammer. I met him in the park. Questions about particulars of a situation e. once an anterior frame of reference is established it is natural to resume reference to the already introduced event by the Simple Past Tense. The whole community is in an uproar.

Linguists and grammarians have also identified other uses of the simple past tense: • the habitual use. . He always arrived on time. Whenever I looked up he was looking. moving is the sort of event that doesn’t take place often and cannot be thought of as taking up one year. • the present time use also known as attitudinal past (i. Lucy was playing on the piano and Jane was doing nothing. Will wrote a report every week. then suddenly the door opened and John burst into the room. yet the sentences would probably receive different interpretations. Hence the sentence in (59iii) would receive a specific/deictic interpretation. him for money. when he was having his breakfast his dog was He looked at her repeatedly when she was not looking. the progressive often occurs in a description of the general situation. the reading of that sentence is habitual. the AS-T/EV-T of the predication): (60) John got up at noon every day during his childhood As is the case with the present tense habituals. which serves as setting or background to what is expressed by means of the simple tenses. exclaiming…. He never knocked on the door. Habitual Past Whenever Past Tense combines with frequency adverbials. Mary was sewing. • the past perfect use. None of the situations described above would generally take an entire year.e. In a connected narrative. In a habitual sentence such as the one in (60) the adverb at noon is part of the frequency adverbial phrase at noon every day (which specifies the repeated EV-T of the predication) while the adverbial during his childhood specifies the past interval during which the recurring event took place (and indicates. The examples below illustrate full habitual sentences of several basic-level situation types (Smith 1991:87): (58) (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) (v) Sam rode his bicycle on Fridays.20 (56) The boy with fair hair lowered himself down the last few feet of the rock toward the lagoon. as indicated in (62): (62) (i) (ii) Fido chased cars (habitual reading) Fido chased a car / Fido chased the car (non-habitual reading) The progressive form may also occur in sentences interpreted as habitual / iterative due to the presence of a frequency adverb. especially if context and world knowledge makes it reasonable (Smith 1991:87). and began to pick his way (57) One morning the three sisters were together in the drawing room. (Jespersen 1969:264) Notice the way the progressive is used in these examples: the progressive forms of the predicate form a ‘temporal frame’ around an action denoted by the non-progressive form. the determiner of the frequency adverbial in the past tense habituals must be indefinite: (61) (i) (ii) They went to the movies three times a week *They went to the movies three times the week The habitual reading of a sentence may also be conveyed by the plural form of the direct object. past reference in combination with politeness/diffidence) C. Jim was often unemployed. While riding a bicycle and feeding the cat are ordinary and likely to be taken as habitual. Lynn moved last year. Marcia fed the cat that year. Consider the following examples borrowed from Jespersen (1969:265): (63) (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) Every morning. in conjunction with the Past Tense. However the habitual interpretation often arises without a frequency adverbial. therefore. Consider the examples below: (59) (i) (ii) (iii) Susan rode a bicycle last summer. staring at him. when he was having his breakfast his wife asked Every morning.

the sentence in (64ii) describes two eventualities (a semelfactive and an achievement – both characterized as non-durative) that can be performed only sequentially (as a rule. (v) John had left when I arrived. Clynes. Relative to UT-T. greeted the little princess Beevans took her back to her mother’s bedside. states are characterized as being unbounded and durative. D) The Simple Past Tense with Past Perfect Value Consider the sentences below (Stefanescu.R. the eventuality that is interpreted as taking place before another eventuality in the past has a past perfect value – we have to do with a shifted reading of the Simple Past Tense in the case of events. 1988) (64) (i) (ii) (iii) He enjoyed and admired the sonnets of Shakespeare He knocked and entered / He shaved and listened to the radio In (64i) we have a description of two state situations. one first knocks and then enters). the matrix event is past. Generally. ordering it before AS-T 2 of the adjunct clause. (simultaneous reading) (ii) He shaved and then he listened to the radio. This is due to the Aktionsart type of the predicates: activities. The Assertion Times of the two events are each co-indexed with the respective Event Times. (vi) The police arrived after the bomb had exploded.and before-clauses semantically require closed main clauses. the events described being viewed in their entirety as including both the initial and final boundary (perfective ). hence the sentence is understood to describe two simultaneous states. (sequential reading) Temporal relations between two consecutive events can be explicitly marked either by: (i) an adverbial or conjunction or by (ii) the anteriority indicating auxiliary have or (iii) both. (ii) It occurred to me AFTER I ground the coffee that what I really wanted was ice tea. after. The two readings can be identified by means of inserting disambiguating elements such as an adverbial or a conjunction: (65) (i) He shaved while he listened/was listening to the radio. Consider the following examples: (66) (i) Home Secretary J. a Scot. Now.> The schema indicates that the past event described by the matrix (his dropping the letter) is ordered before the past event described by the subordinate clause (his going away). AS-T1 of the matrix clause is also assumed to be the external argument of the spatiotemporal predicate BEFORE. The example in (64iii) is ambiguous between a sequential reading and a simultaneous reading. the spatiotemporal predicates BEFORE/AFTER establish an ordering relation between the AST-T (itself co-temporal with the EV-T) of the main clause and the AST-T (itself co-temporal with EV-T) of the adjunct clause. The syntactic representation below illustrates the temporal schema: (68) UT-T T after AS-Ti TP T’ AspP Asp’ .21 In all these cases the progressive serves as background/time frame for the situation denoted by the simple tense form. in this case. The schema below illustrates the ordering relation between the two events in example (66iii) above relative to each other and relative to the UT-T: AST1/ EV-T1 AS-T2 / EV-T 2 UT-T (67) …[……………]…[…………]…………[……]……. THEN I fished my keys out pocket and leaned forward. BEFORE Nurse of the recesses of my In the sentences in (66) above the temporal adjunct clauses modify the AST-T of the main clause. (iii) He dropped the letter BEFORE he went away. That is. (iv) I tucked the newspapers under my arm. given the tense marker –ed which orders the UT-T AFTER AS-T1. On the other hand.

This is due again. In contrast. E. allowing several interpretations. The two situations are taken as overlapping for a short interval. express a temporal relation in the domain established by the matrix clause. When he was a student he wrote poetry . This interpretation is valid since getting a letter is viewed as falling under the ontological type achievement. To render the sentence semantically clear we would have to use a marker of anteriority. in this particular case the auxiliary ‘have’ (60vi). after. As far as (60 iv) is concerned the reading we obtain is that the two situations follow one another. What we mean is that when-clauses are flexible. as well.1991. . *When he read the letter he burned it. It is to be noted. (i) He felt very nervous during the days before the examination. Consider the examples below: (60) (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) (v) (vi) When the bell rang Mary was swimming. unlike after or before do not have the overt syntax of PP.22 AS-Ti PP Asp VP P ZeitP BEFORE EV-Ti VP drop the letter The above representation confirms the observations of a large number of grammarians and linguists11 according to whom all temporal conjunctions (after. (ii) He felt very nervous during the days before the examination took place. like prepositional phrases. (60ii) has the reading that the swimming began at the time of the other event. Instead a prepositional phrase of the form ‘after then that’ was used. The situations presented may be taken as simultaneous. until. The head of the PP (a spatiotemporal predicate) takes as internal argument a temporal DP/Zeit Phrase. Dowty 1979. depending on viewpoint and situation types. though. before. It has long been argued that the interpretation of when-clauses depends on viewpoint. (expressed as the implicit ZeitP) A notable exception to the above observation is ‘when-clauses’.g. What is meant is that when. the situation described in the when-clause precedes the situation described by the main clause. so that (69’) is a good paraphrase of (69) (Declerck 1991:99):: (69’) (i) It happened [PPat [ZeitPthe time [CPwheni [TPthe police were there ti]]]] This paraphrases makes clear that the when clause locates the situation it describes at the implicit time. When seems not to impose any particular relation on situations. to mention just a few). The CP acts as a relative clause restricting the reference of the time span. Consider the examples below (Declerck 1991:99): (69) (i) It happened when the police were there In the example above. the situations presented are taken as (somewhat) successive (actually this is known as sloppy simultaneity). given world knowledge this is the interpretation we favour. when is equivalent to ‘at a time when’. The Simple Past Tense Referring to Present Time (Attitudinal Past) 11 These observations are supported by diachronic evidence. overlapping or successive. modified by a restrictive relative clause – roughly [ PP before/after [ZeitP the time [CP Øi [CP he went away ti]]]]. When he got the letter he burned it. When he had read the letter he burned it. incorporating temporal adjunct clauses within their model assuming that they are PPs. situation type and pragmatic factors (cf. the durative activity of swimming is conceptualized as lasting longer than the event of bell ringing. Smith. that is simultaneous with the situation described by the matrix clause. The example in (60v) does not allow for the same kind of interpretation. and does not have another interpretation. (unlike after which always requires that the main clause have a closed interpretation). since the perfective clause is taken as inceptive: given our world knowledge. (see Visser 1970:868)Apart from the diachronic evidence. before were not used as conjunctions. In old English. nevertheless that when clauses. Roughly the paraphrase for the adjunct clause in (66iii) is ‘before the time at which he went away’. when was used as a question word or indefinite adverb and only later developed its use as a conjunction (Mitchell 1987:402). to the type of situation in the when-clause: reading a letter is a durative event (accomplishment). (60iii) allows for a simultaneous interpretation since both situations qualify as (homogeneous) states. (Compare: Sue left before/when Howard arrived vs Sue left before noon/ *when noon). (60i) has the reading that Mary’s swimming was already in progress at the time of the event of bell ringing. In old English. When the bell rang Mary swam. temporal clauses can be postmodifiers: e. the prepositional origin of temporal conjunctions appears from the fact that. 1984. The approach put forth by Demirdache&Uribe-Etxebarria (2004) adopts this point of view. since) can be paraphrased by means of a prepositional phrase with the word ‘time (at which)’ . Demirdache&Uribe-Etxebarria (2004) integrate when-clauses into the model by assuming that these time adjuncts are concealed PPs – that is phrases that are headed by a silent (Ø) preposition indicating central coincidence (within relation).

(Smith 1991:164). in recent times. According to the Oxford English Dictionary. is it? You always want something!’. Leech (1971:11) makes the following comments on the exchange in (61i): “The subject of this exchange would probably be the present wishes of speaker B. in such sentences. more diffident version of the present tense versions of the sentences: (61) (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) (v) A: Did you want to see me? B: Yes. namely [John arrive] as occurring at a time before the specified Reference time (i. finish. with a switch to 2nd person subject. the time referred to will be interpreted. the first such use cited in OED is 1530. In the absence of any contextual indication that reference is made to some definite time in the non-immediate past. Since there is nothing to suggest that the state has ended. Along the same lines. the past tense does not.Declerck 1991:319) discards the present perfect from his treatment of the tenses because. and would seem to say ‘Oh. Perfect constructions have a characteristic set of temporal location and aspectual values. (Smith 1991:146). but 3 rd person subjects can be used when speaking on behalf of somebody else. The former refers to a construction with particular temporal and aspectual characteristics. In English the aspectual relations identified as PERFECTIVE and PERFECT are encoded as follows: PERFECTIVE is encoded by the simple form. 12 . Huddlestone & Pullum (2002) state that: ‘ The added politeness associated with the preterite comes from avoiding explicit reference to the immediate present: I distance myself slightly and thus avoid the risk of appearing too direct. and appear in many languages. The Perfect in English 3. The aim of this subchapter is to introduce and discuss important matters concerning the characteristics of perfect sentences in English. the term referred to a tense of ancient Greek12.and the event is portrayed in its entirety. Perfect sentences appear with Present. as immediate past. it’s you. The same usage carries over into interrogatives. so that all the sentences convey the present tense versions of the sentences. I wanted to ask your advice. in his opinion . broadly interchangeable in this context. I hoped you would give me a hand with the painting. The difference is claimed to be one of aspect only. the interpretation will be that the state also obtains at utterance time. as including its endpoints. but there is quite an important difference in tone. In all these cases the adverbials in conjunction with the tense morphemes (Present.” According to Huddlestone & Pullum (2002:38) ‘this conventional use of the preterite is quite consistent with its basic past time meaning’. past). This position is roughly the same as that defended by tradititional grammarians like Jespersen (1924:269) and Poutsma (1926:209) or. One of the roles of have is to carry the tense morpheme (present. despite the use of the past tense. as in (60i). Future) specify AS-T and the sentences describe a situation. accomplish). AS-T) This is In point of terminology there is a clear difference between the ‘perfect’ and ‘perfective’. In English the perfect is signalled by the auxiliary have.23 The Past tense with no adverbial specification may be used in preference to the Present in everyday conversation. on the other hand.The present tense (I hope…) in this situation would seem rather brusque and demanding – it would make the request difficult to refuse without impoliteness. As can be noticed. Past and Future reference time and with both a perfective and progressive viewpoints. I wondered whether you could help me out. My daughter was hoping to speak to the Manager. Both come from the Latin word ‘perfectus’ the past participle of ‘perficere’ (to carry. Comrie (1981a apud R. I thought I might come and see you later this evening. Nowadays it is used for constructions that have a certain temporal and aspectual meaning. the present perfect does not differ from the past tense in terms of time location. both tenses locate a situation as prior to he time of utterance. The politeness/diffidence feature is also found with the past progressive. whether or not they involve tense. 3. in fact. being considered somewhat more polite. which obligatorily selects the past participle form of the main verb. possibly brusque. while the perfect encodes the PERFECT which describes an event as completed prior to a reference time. Past and Future Perfects: (62) (i) (ii) (iii) Now John has arrived. end. The examples below illustrate Present.e. Past. not eventive/dynamic situations and the use of the past tense does not entail that the state no longer holds. McCoard (1978:19). the term ‘perfect’ was first applied to the Latin tense which denoted a completed action or event viewed in relation to the present and then with qualifications to any tense expressing completed action. Politeness also extends to the original question Did you want to see me? The logically expected tense (Do you want me?) might have peremptory overtones. as in (60v) above. All the examples below are interpretable as a more polite. all the situations described in the sentences are state situations. The Present and the Past are. The effect of the past tense is to make the request indirect. while the latter refers to a closed grammatical viewpoint. The prototypical case (for either aspect) is a declarative with first person subject.: the present perfect implies current relevance’. avoids the confrontation of wills. Next Saturday John will have already arrived. Last Saturday John had (already) arrived.0. Traditionally. The past tense. and therefore more polite….

In all these sentences the focus is on the (consequent ) state that obtains in the present. Susan has been sick.e. UT-T WITHIN AS-T ) and the event as such is located within the interval prior to AS-T (i. the contribution of the perfect to the meaning of the sentence is that it makes available an AS-T distinct from the EV-T. that is to say in order for the subjects to receive the participant property . not being limited to UT-T. . the sentences attribute to their respective subjects the property (experience) of having gone to London and the property (experience) of having danced. McCoard 1978). one of the hallmarks of the Perfect is that it presents the prior situation as related to a reference time. The situation described by the VP occurs prior to AS-T (due to the auxiliary have) while the tense morpheme . VP 1 represents the processual subpart of the event while VP 2 stands for the resultant state (or consequent state) after the culmination/termination of the process. The felicity requirement is that the person referred to by the subject NP must be able to bear the property ascribed to them by a perfect sentence. To conclude. AS-T AFTER EV-T. As already mentioned. To accommodate this state of fact Demirdache and Uribe-Etxebarria (2002) decompose/split the VP. The reference times of the next two examples (62ii. taking advantage of the fact that VPs can be recursive. they must be alive at reference time). AS-T AFTER EV-T ). It is assumed that this pragmatic felicity requirement on the use of the perfect accounts for the oddity of a sentence like the following: (66) Einstein has lived in Princeton The sentence is grammatical but pragmatically infelicitous when uttered after the death of Einstein (Jespersen 1931:60). we assume with Demirdache & Uribe-Etxebarria (2004) that the perfect can be analyzed as a marker of aspect represented as the spatio-temporal predicate AFTER.e AS-T AFTER EVT). shows that AS-T is concomitant/before /after the time of Utterance i. Let’s consider the examples in 64(i.e. they also convey that the event precedes the reference time ( i. iii) are similarly extended in some way to include the time of John’s arrival. UT-T precedes or follows AS-T). The third characteristic of Present Perfect sentences in English is that they ascribe to their subjects a property that results from their participation in the situation (Smith 1991:148). in all the cases the claim is made about a time span that does not include the event at stake i. Since the perfect encodes the temporal relations between AS-T and EV-T placing the former after the latter.e the aspect component says that AS-T is in the posttime of EV-T (i. as illustrated by the previous examples and the present perfect examples below. The aspectual meaning of the perfect is thus closely related to its temporal meaning. Helen has danced with Tom (twice). hence the situation is viewed as completed and within an interval that extends back from the moment of speech –the ‘extended now’ interval (McCoard 1984). We understand not only that an event of going to Paris has taken place or that an event of dancing has occurred. So. AS-T AFTER EV-T) . The notion of Current Relevance is sometimes invoked to explain the infelicity of such sentences (Jespersen 1931.iii) above. Both sentences have unspecified Past and Future reference times (i.e.e. The ball has rolled down the hill.24 the second role of the aspectual auxiliary HAVE. They have built a cabin in the mountains. In (62i) the adverb in combination with the present tense morpheme -s specify the AS-T : AS-T overlaps the time of utterance (i. (64) (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) (v) Anabelle has gone to Paris. the situation described in a perfect sentence is viewed as completed in relation to a reference time ( our AS-T) which itself can be located in the present. This failure is accounted for in terms of the participant property. a state which is due to the occurrence of the situation described by the VP. In this case the time sphere is present/past/future. to experience the events described they must be sentient beings (roughly.e.UT within/after/before AS-T . It is assumed (Giorgi &Pianesi 1998:97) that this is the contribution of the perfect morphology. past or future. This interpretation perfectly accomodates the presence of perfect constructions in contexts where the inflectional past tense cannot occur: (63) (i) (ii) Sheila may have left last week Susan’s having left early surprised everyone Perfect sentences have a stative value They present a state of affairs (a situation) that results from and is due to the prior situation. yet also part of a general period of the present which extends backward. The sentences assert that their subjects have participated in the events described. as in (65): (65) Ev-T1 V0 Ev-T2 VP1 VP1 Process <e> VP2 VP2 Resultant State <e’> Each VP in (65) stands for a phase in the internal temporal structure of the event described by the VP.

e. the various readings of the Present Perfect. i. The question that grammarians had to solve was whether the type of anteriority induced by the Past tense is indeed different from that expressed by the Present Perfect .2 A commonplace manner of analysing the present perfect has been to place it in opposition to the Simple Past tense. Here are the two representations: PAST TENSE AS-T/EV-T UT-T . This subchapter looks into the main problems identified with respect to the Present Perfect.the present perfect is incompatible with specific past time adverbs (dubbed as ‘the present perfect puzzle’) (ii) Perfect sentences are stative (irrespective of the underlying eventuality type) while Past tense sentences inherit the aspectual properties of the underlying eventuality The main characteristic shared with the Past Tense is that they both express a relation of anteriority of an eventuality to a reference time (i. Following current research. With the Past tense the EV-T and AS-T are co-temporal. 3.1. which separate the reference time from the event time. as already mentioned. The contribution of the perfect to the meaning of the sentence is that it makes available an AS-T distinct from the EVT. The essential insight about these constructions is due to Reichenbach 1947. the relevant one in the understanding of the differences between the two tenses under consideration is AS-T. permit assertions about the involvement of the subject to be separated from those of the event itself…. Miriam has eaten an apple . the claim is made about a present time span that does not include the event at stake.. With the simple tenses R (i. which means that the event occurs at/within the stated AS-T. we have argued that AS-T acts as a perspective time. perfect tenses make available a reference time distinct from the event time) . the relationship of the present perfect with time adverbs and the Present Perfect Puzzle 3. which holds at a given reference time by virtue of the participation in the situation. that is.e. it acts as a time from which the event is considered. Consider the examples below: (67) (i) (ii) Miriam ate an apple. The difference between the sentences in (66) above is a matter of temporal point of view or perspective. The three main points around which the distinction between the 2 tenses revolves are the following: (i) they both express temporal anteriority but in different ways: Past Tense expresses temporal precedence between UT-T and AS-T while the Perfect expresses temporal precedence between EV-T and AS-T (ii) compatibility with adverbial phrases. To conclude this short introduction. (b) the construction has a resultant stative value. The time-sphere is Past: the claim is made about a past time span that includes the entire event. a time about which a particular claim is made. in Giorgi and Pianesi’s (1998) terms. As-T after EV-T) (i. such as: (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) the difference between the present perfect and the past tense. shows that AS-T is concomitant with the time of Utterance.Present Perfect sentences 3. German vs English) but these are the primary identifying characteristics. As we have seen in our discussion of the Present Tense and Past Tense.e AS-T) coincides with (or contains ) the time of the event.e. Smith (1991:146) that Perfect constructions generally convey the following related meanings: (a) the situation described precedes Reference time (i. in terms of the theory put forth by Demirdache & Uribe-Etxebarria (2004) the perfect (have) just like the past tense (ed) are temporal predicates with the meaning AFTER ). so that the participation of the subject in the event is viewed together with the event itself’. the relation of anteriority (expressed by the past tense morpheme –ed) exists therefore between Assertion time/Event Time and Utterance time: i. In the case of the Present Perfect the situation described by the VP occurs prior to AS-T (due to the auxiliary have) while the present tense morpheme –s. Of the three temporal entities we have employed in our analysis of the tenses. or in Klein’s (1992) terms. UT-T within AS-T .1. AS-T after EVT. Tense relates UT-T and AS-T. There are some differences across languages (e. With simple tense forms AS-T coincides with (or contains) EV-T. EV-T.. UT-T after AS-T/EV-T since AS-T= EV-T.g.25 According to Giorgi and Pianesi (1998:95): ‘only perfect tenses. Both sentences describe a situation located in the Past and are true under the same circumstances. AS-T.1. while Aspect relates AS-T and EV-T. French.1. since Aspect has no morphological content.. we will assume with C. (c) a special property is ascribed to the subject. Romanian. namely UT-T. the ambiguity phenomena arising with present perfect sentences.e. In this case the time sphere is present. ‘the perfect tenses provide individual level predicates’.e.

in Past sentences the point of view is squarely in the past. (68) Ev-T1 V0 13 14 VP1 VP1 Process <e> VP2 Actually they say that : ‘…. which. as already stated. is viewed as including the utterance time (due to the present tense morpheme. that present perfect predicates (VPs) have a structure that resembles that of transitive accomplishment verbs (e.e it separates the AS-T from the EV-T. in its turn. (Klein 1992:53) . The tense component says that AS-T includes UT-T while the aspect component says that AS-T is in the post-time of EVT (i. AS-T after EV-T) . What this means is that the assertion about the event as such necessarily includes assertions about the involvement of the subject.). 1993). In Georgi &Pianesi’s account. So. In contrast. the meaning of (67i) is that there is a past event of eating an apple and as far as the event is concerned its agent is Miriam. This applies analogously to the future perfect and past perfect.the claim made about R is that the relevant θ-relation holds (or is said to hold) of the subject at R. The (Present) Perfect makes available a tense component and an aspect component. the analysis nicely accounts for the strong feeling connected with the present perfect: it makes a claim about a time span (AS-T) that includes UT-T and it relates this time span explicitly to some event in the past. Hence.26 (a) UT-T TP` T’ AspP Asp’ Asp VP (b) -----[----------]-----------[------]---- T AFTER AS-Ti EV-Ti PRESENT PERFECT VP UT-T EV-T (a) UT-T TP` T’ AspP Asp’ Asp AFTER VP (b) ---[----------------]----[-------]-------AS-T T WITHIN AS-T EV-T VP In the case of the Past Tense the AS-T is past and the event occurs at AS-T which is prior to the time of Utterance. On the other hand (67ii) means that there is a past event of eating an apple and as far as the present situation is concerned its agent is Miriam. e’) . According to this view.14 . the Perfect auxiliary have locates the situation as a whole (EV-T) at a time prior to AS-T. we will assume. the participation of the subject in the event is viewed together with the event as such. except that the relevance is not current or present.e.e. or the stative nature of the predication as well as the participant property that it assigns to the subject. since they suggest that (at least part of) the claim made about AS-T refers to assertions about the subject at AS-T13 . while e’ (event 2) stands for the result of that event (Hale and Keyser.i. but it is ongoing. when AS-T and EV-T (R and E in their system) coincide. i. e (event 1) stands for the process. Since all accounts of the present perfect stress the present time relevance of the present perfect.

This value of the present perfect is known as the continuative or inclusive value. For a present perfect sentence to be true. the Indefinite Past (Leech 1971 ).2. Consider the following examples: (69) (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) Tabitha has lived in Hamburg ever since she married. state predicates are recategorized as events in the context of frequency adverbs (e. In (69ii) the absence of the duration adjunct forces the closed. Ev-T1. (iv) the Resultative Present Perfect. continuative reading. Tabitha has lived in Hamburg . but on the relevance of the situation within the time-span up to now . or with other grammarians. (ii) the Perfect of Recent Past (also known as the ‘Hot News Present Perfect’). Smith. boundary definite) with respect to EV-T.27 Ev-T2 VP2 Resultant State <e’> Each VP in (68) stands for a phase in the internal temporal structure of the event described by the VP. According to. As can be noticed. The sentence implicates that the subject is alive and can be interpreted as the carrier of the enduring property (experience) of having participated in the event. Each of the sub-events in (68) has an external temporal argument: the external argument of VP 1. 1965). For (69i) the natural reading is an open. Anagnostopoulou. among others. Iatridou &Izvorski (1998:17) the Experiential Perfect and the Perfect of Recent Past may be considered to fall under the cover term ‘Existential’ Perfect. non-continuative reading. the Hot News Present Perfect. never. The external argument of VP2. These readings are not due to an inherent ambiguity of the perfect. but it may also be in the distant past. I have hated liars three times in my life) The Experiential value of the Perfect may occur with any Aktionsart: (70) (i) Sam has broken my computer (twice) (Accomplishment) . from its beginning up to its culmination/termination.g. the values or meanings of the present perfect crucially depend on the aspectual properties of the underlying eventuality and the context (cf. designates the resultant state after the culmination/termination of the process. Comrie. EV-T may immediately precede AS-T. The fact that distance and frequency of EV-T are left open gives rise to the different readings of the perfect (existential. She has recently/just been to Paris/ Malcolm Jones has just been assassinated! In both(69i) and (69ii) .1Aspect does not say how LONG AS-T is after EV-T. 3. Jane has broken her leg /They have gone away. or before (now) (Leech 1971:32). The connection with NOW is the subject which must have the participant property as a present attribute. A. or it can be included in the domain of Resultative perfect. 1967). in point of situation type. The example in (69iv) is assumed to be a case of the Perfect of Recent Past. all that is required is that SOME time span. Kamp and Reyle. the situation continues from the time specified (ever since she married) into the time of utterance (and in the absence of contrary indications will presumably continue into the future). the number of events can also be mentioned adverbially: “ I’ve been to America three times’. As already mentioned the different uses of the Present Perfect depend on the situation types denoted by the VP as well as context. Tabitha’s living in Hamburg is said to have taken place at some indefinite time in the past.2 Values of the Present Perfect 3.We turn now to the description of the various meanings of the present perfect: (i) the Experiential Present Perfect ((first identified by Zandvoort. but stem from contextual information and the particular type of situation. (iii ) the Continuative Present Perfect. resultative .e. etc). one at which the situation was true. VP 1 represents the processual subpart of the event while VP 2 stands for the resultant state (or consequent state) after the culmination/termination of the process. either. The focus is not on the occurrence at some particular time in the past. The sentences in (69iii) are the clearest cases of the resultative perfect.(McCawley 1976).2. continuative. The perfect doesn’t set any boundary on the DURATION of EV-T. Experiential Perfect (Existential Value) As already mentioned several times so far. This (VP decomposition) analysis of the present perfect proposed by Demirdache and Uribe-Etxebarria (2002) will nicely account for the values attached to the present perfect. 2001. These identified major uses can be thought of as different ways in which a past situation may have ‘current relevance’. This value of the perfect is known as the experiential value.2. This meaning is often reinforced adverbially by ever. renamed in current studies as the Existential Value. where the situation inherently involves a specific change of state (the predicates are telic): the occurrence of these situations result in a state that still obtains at now. 1993. Demirdache and Uribe-Etxebarria. The Perfect of experience ‘expresses what has happened once or more than once within the speaker’s or writer’s experience’ (Zandvoort. denotes the period of time during which the process unfolds in time. Klein (1992:539) argues that the duration of EV-T is ignored due to the fact that the perfect is not b-definite (i. Julien. 1991. Nor does the perfect say anything about the FREQUENCY of the situation described . the predicate [Tabitha live in Hamburg] qualifies as state. 2004 among many others). Ev-T2. precedes the time when the utterance is made. 3. 2002. 1976.

28 (ii) All my family have had measles/Have you been to America? (State) (iii) She has danced with John five times (Activity) (iv) I’ve discovered how to mend the fuse. Malcolm Jones has just been assassinated! (Leech 1971) It has been a bad start to the year. Notice that the presence of the adverbs ‘ already’ and ‘often’ cancel the effect of the past time adverbs. which he calls ‘Indefinite Past. Huddlestone &Pullum 2002:145) suggest that ‘it is arguable that the existential and resultative categories are broad enough to cover all non-continuative uses. You’ve been fighting again (‘I can tell from your black eye) I’ve just been listening to a program on Vietnam. Resultative Perfect The Present Perfect can also be used with reference to a past event the result of which is still valid at the present time (at now). but not for (x) It’s the first/third time you’ve asked me this question today. vs He got up at five o’clock. The connection with now is the potential occurrence or recurrence of the situation at any time within the time span up to now and this potentiality is made possible by the status of the subject (the participation property). 2002). According to Leech (1971) this use of the Present Perfect is a subcategory of the Present Perfect of Experience. under certain circumstances. fish to bite.. is not on their occurrence at some particular time in the past but on the existence of the situation within the time span. (ix) Men have died from time to time and worms have eaten them. The Perfect of result is possible only with telic predicates since they denote a transition from one state to another and only . Huddlestone and Pullum 2002:144): (71) (i) We’ve already discussed it yesterday. Consider the examples below: (73) (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) (v) (vi) Why are you crying? I’ve been chopping onion. under restrictive conditions. (Achievement) (v) Have you visited the Gaugain exhibition? (vi) I have sat for hours on the river bank on a fine summer’s day. B. waiting for a 1967:62) (vii) Men’s hairs have grown grey in a single night. What is interesting about the experiential perfect is that. (Mittwoch 1988) C. This use of the present perfect is quite frequent with news announcements as in the radio bulletin examples in (72ii. thank goodness it’s finished. (viii) Mr Philips has sung in this choir.. in the present perfect sentences in (70) the eventualities are presented as ‘bounded’.. it allows for the presence of a past time adjunct (Comrie 1985. processes or events) that are presented as completed prior to the moment of speech (Demirdache and Uribe-Etxebarria. overnight (H&P 2002:145) An interesting fact about this use of the present perfect is the one mentioned by Leech (1971:46. with two fatal road accidents Has the dustman called yet? He has just graduated from college.iii) (wherefrom the name ‘Hot News Present Perfect’ McCawley (1971)) (72) (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) (v) She has recently/just been to Paris/It has just struck twelve. there is no reference to any specific occasion. as well as already and yet.’. 1988) As can be easily noticed. Klein 1992. vs We discussed it yesterday. as there is in the simple preterite. This is the reason why this value is also knwn as the Indefinite Past value of the Present Perfect (Leech 1971).e. i. In this reading of the Perfect just like in the Present Perfect of Experience category the underlying eventuality can be of any Aktionsart. (ii) He has often got up at five o’clock.e they show the existence of one or several eventualities (states. I’ve just been cooking. as well as Mittwoch 1988) according to whom. i. since some of them can be repeated. however. the perfect progressive may describe ‘recently finished’ eventualities ‘the effects of which are still apparent’. it’s all gone. (Mittwoch 1988) I have been writing a difficult letter. (Fenn 1987). The Perfect of Recent Past Most grammarians agree that the Perfect of Recent Past is used to report an eventuality that just happened. used deictically. The focus. He has been eating your porridge. We go along with the suggestion that this use can be included in the Present Perfect of Experience group. These adverbs do not refer to definite times in the past but indicate an indefinite time within a short interval stretching back from UT-T. (Zaandvoort love”. (Stefanescu. The most widely used adverbs with this value of the perfect are recently and just.’ Some other linguist and grammarians consider this value as a subcategory of the Resultative Perfect but for the component of recency. Georgi&Pianesi 1998.

vs We’ve lived here (Leech. ones without a terminal point. Sometimes it is indistinguishable (or at least difficult to distinguish) from the Perfect of Recent Past. (Jespersen 1969:241) We’ve known each other for years. What this actually amounts to is to say that basically it is only states that may occur with this value in the simple tense forms. Compare: (77) (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) (v) (vi) (vii) *He has written another poem/found his keys ever since he came *He has danced ever since this morning. He’s been writing this poem ever since he came home He’s been dancing ever since this morning He has written about religion all his life Mr Phillips has sung in this choir for fifty years. Huddlestone & Pullum 2002. 15 Huddlestone and Pullum (2002:142) consider the continuative reading of the Perfect to be imperfective aspectually . D. He has been given a camera. i. who assume that actually what counts for a proper use of the Continuative Perfect is unboundedness. home. The resultant state begins at the time of occurrence of the underlying eventuality and continues through into the present. I’ve recovered from my illness. It is currently assumed that the Continuative Perfect is not one of the core meanings of the Perfect since many languages do not have it. It is generally assumed that the Continuative reading of the Perfect can be formed from stative predicates. Iatridou&Izvorski (1998. I’ve always walked to work. Leech1971. Huddlestone and Pullum (2002) call this use the Perfect of Continuing Result. (open reading)15 i. unless they are used in the progressive or they have an iterated (generic/habitual. homogeneous eventualities.McCoard 1978. Huddlestone and Pullum (2002) state that the continuative perfect in the non-progressive form only allows atelic situations. He has gone to America. This suggestion is supported by Anagnostopoulou.etc). Consider the following examples borrowed from different sources (Zandvoort1967.o. Dowty !979. Oh! My God! Sam has broken my computer. (Jespersen 1933. I’ve bought a new car. Different linguists and grammarians have identified different constraints that are operative on this use of the perfect.22). A second condition for the instantiation of this use has been assumed to be the presence of certain adverbials.): (75) (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) (v) He hath beene dead foure days.1971:31) Have you known the Faulkners for long? Leech (1971:32) mentions that the adverbial need not be required in the following exchange: (76) A: Why haven’t you been writing to me? B: I’ve been too angry/I’ve been ill. Jespersen 1933. hence stative) interpretation. Jespersen (1931) calls this use of the Present Perfect the ‘inclusive present perfect’ which speaks of a state that is continued from the past into the present time. Stefanescu 1988. They’ve gone away. How long has he been unconscious? (Zandvoort. (Zandvoort 1967:62) He has collected much evidence against her.e. Consider the following examples: (74) (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) (v) (vi) (vii) (viii) (ix) (x) The taxi has arrived. The continuative reading is manifest with atelic situation types (or rather unbounded). Comrie 1976). . (Jespersen 1969:266) It is generally assumed that the resultative reading does not need any support from adverbials. a. I have lost my glasses. Continuative or Inclusive Perfect The Continuative Perfect conveys the meaning that the situation described holds throughout some interval stretching from a certain point in the past up to the present moment (Zanvoort 1967.29 for as long as the effect /result of the underlying eventuality holds. Twenty years have passed since we first met. The connection with the present is that the resultant state still holds ‘at now’.1967:59) We’ve lived here all our lives.Leech 1971.e.e. the Continuative Perfect will not be possible with the Perfect of telics and activities alike. All the other situation types require the use of the progressive. that is the underlying eventuality must be stative. i..

i. up Continuative reading obligatory: at least since. The eventuality is interpreted as closed . the same ambiguity may arise with activity predicates. The adverbials assumed to trigger the Continuative reading fall into two groups. The adverbs mentioned above relate to intervals. One diagnostic for whether an adverb is perfect level is whether perfect morphology is obligatory. the most important characteristics of the Continuative Perfect outlined in the literature are the following: • the Continuative Perfect presents a state as holding from a moment in the past up to and including the moment of speech. the time span must be ‘filled up’ with a homogeneous predicate. If the perfect level adverbial is inclusive the perfect sentence asserts that a particular eventuality/situation is properly included in the perfect time span. namely. for five to now days now It has long been acknowledged (Dowty 1979. for five days.e.on the other hand. Actually. • the Continuative Perfect requires unbounded ( homogeneous) eventualities. States are ambiguous between an open (unbounded) and a closed (bounded) reading. This means that the UT-T is included by assertion. etc). We have lived in London ever since 1997/all our lives The first example without the adverbial does not favour the continuative reading but rather a closed. Fenn 1987. perfect level and eventuality level adverbials. Compare the following sentences: (78) (i) (ii) We have lived in London. seem to be optional with perfect morphology. She’s been rehearsing for five hours now. • the Continuative reading of the Perfect necessarily requires adverbial modification The role of adverbial modification According to Anagnostopoulou. some with which the Continuative reading is possible and some with which the Continuative reading is obligatory: (80) (i) (ii) Continuative reading possible: since. Vlach 1993) that there are at least two levels of adverbials. According to them. ever since. the situation is located at some time within the time . i. (x) (xi) (xii) I’ve enjoyed my meals all the better since you started going out The news has been broadcast at ten o’clock for as long as I can He has worked here ever since he was a child. Consider the following examples: (79) (i) Mary has rehearsed since noon (a) Now she is resting (b) She is still rehearsing Mary has been rehearsing since noon (ii) The second sentence is not ambiguous at all: the only available reading of the sentence is the Continuative reading. actually such adverbials are ambiguous between a perfect-level and eventuality level reading. namely the Perfect of experience (Leech. This ambiguity of the states is visible with the Present Perfect as well. Iatridou and Izvorsky (1998) the Continuative reading of the Present Perfect asserts that the underlying eventuality holds throughout the interval specified by the adverb and at its endpoints. since is a case in point: (81) (i) (ii) I have been away since yesterday *I am/ was away since yesterday For-adverbials. Huddlestone and Pullum 2002. In such cases we obtain a Continuative reading of the perfect. since we argued that all situation types with the exception of states are interpreted in the perfective viewpoint as containing boundedness (i. Mittwoch 1988). namely. 1971.e. If a Perfect-level adverb is durative the situation denoted by the predicate must hold of every subinterval of the time span.e. so far. She has been working here longer than the others. The presence of the adverbial in the second sentence makes possible the Continuative reading of the Perfect. bounded reading. in this capacity they can be interpreted as ‘durative’ or ‘inclusive’ (Dowty 1979. endpoints). this use of the perfect is possible only when the perfect is modified by adverbs that denote time spans . To sum up. The assumption is not unreasonable.30 (viii) (ix) remember.

e. (ambiguous) Since Tuesday. and the Perfect of Experience is obtained. vs. the adverb indicates the length of the reference interval): (85) (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) I was a teacher for 20 years. vs. AmE allows preterits more widely: Since you went home we redecorated our bedroom (H&P:697) . She wrote letters for *He spotted a hawk for half an hour. the for-phrase indicates the length of the situation. In such cases the for-adverb is interpreted as a perfect.Experience I’ve been here since four o’clock (durative reading). iv) are valid since the bare plural ‘letters’ and the frequency adverb ‘every week’ turn the predicates into a process of the multiple event type. / For 20years. Consider the examples below. (process predicate) Peggy has been rehearsing ever since noon. state) ???Peggy has rehearsed ever since noon.(ambiguous) Sam has been in Boston since Tuesday. i. I’ve been lonely ever since you left) and it provides answers to how long questions (e. (Continuative. Huddlestone &Pullum (2002: 709) define this use of the adjunct as ‘temporal location’. continuative) ???I have read this book ever since 1998. It is to be noticed that telic predicates (accomplishments and achievements) in the context of ‘since’ only allow the inclusive reading of this adverbial.g. I’ve been been a teacher for thirty years. occur with other tenses : (i) This is the first cup since Tuesday. in the second example the sentence is ambiguous between an eventuality-level and a perfect –level reading. As already mentioned. Sam has been in Boston The ambiguity of the last two sentence can be resolved if the adverbial is preposed as in (82v) above. Since-adverbials are largely restricted to the perfect in BrE being used to mark the starting point (the left boundary (LB) of the perfect time span denoted by the perfect. Durational reading ‘since’ allows ‘ever’ which forces the Continuative reading (e. for-phrases do not obligatorily require the perfect. I spotted a hawk every week a teacher half an hour for a month. As an eventuality–level adverbial. Whenever since-adverbs occur with events (accomplishments and achievements). (habitual. basic states.Continuative I’ve been ill again since then . For-adverbials are durational which means that the predicate they modify must be homogeneous/have the subinterval property (Dowty 1979). Compare the following: (86) (i) I have lived in Thessaloniki for ten years (E-reading/C-reading) (a)E. hence what is known as the experience reading of the perfect. 16 Since can. Given that for-adverbials can be eventuality-level and perfect –level adverbials.reading: since I was born till now there was a time span of ten (b) C-reading : Within the time span of 10 years I lived in T. we have an eventuality –level reading. years that I lived in T. whenever we deal with sentence. A: How long have you been here? B: Since four o’clock) (H&P 2002:709). the perfect of experience and the continuative perfect. Compare: (83) (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) (v) (vi) Peggy has been in Asia ever since January.31 span indicated. where in (82i) the for-adverbial indicates the length of the situation. the stress lies on the result ensuing from the termination of the event: (84) (i) (ii) He has written two books since 1992 He has reached the top since 6 o’clock For-adverbials have been characterized as being both perfect level and eventuality level adverbials .g. The examples in 82(iii. I’ve been reading this book ever since 1998.final foradverbials.level adverb. (ii) Bill Clinton will be the youngest president since Kennedy. (Continuative) I have worked here ever since 1998. As a perfect –level adverbial the for-phrase indicates the length of the reference interval. which is suspended once the adverb is in sentence –initial position (we only have the perfect-level reading. I have been *Mary wrote the letters for half an hour. generics and dynamic predicates in the progressive aspect.16 These adverbials are ambiguous between the inclusive and durative reading as the examples below (borrowed from H&P 2002:709) indicate: (82) (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) (v) I’ve moved house since you left (inclusive reading). the perfect sentences may be ambiguous between two readings.e. the Continuative reading obeys two constraints: (i) the presence of durative adverbs and (ii) the existence of homogeneous predicates: i. The adverbial at least also forces the Continuative reading . Hence telic predicates and punctual verbs are excluded. Whenever the for-adverbial is in sentence -initial position the only available reading is the continuative perfect. however.

In what follows. The adverb of duration shows that the state in question began three years before the moment of speech and this state still continues at the moment of utterance. 2002). Whenever always co-occurs with stage-level states or dynamic predicates it may occur in non-perfect sentences or in perfect sentences with perfect adverbials in which case it has an eventuality level reading: (92) (i) (ii) (iii) I always give/gave him a dime when he asks/asked for money. In such contexts the adverb is characterized as perfect-level and cannot co-occur with other perfect-level adverbs: (91) (i) * Since 1990. processes or events) that are presented as completed prior to the moment of speech (Demirdache and UribeEtxebarria. she has always been sick when I visited her. The ambiguity disappears once we use the progressive form of the perfect: (88) (i) (ii) Tom has pushed the cart for two hours . (only C-reading ) For-adverbs may occur in perfect sentences in the context of a perfect-level adverbial like since-adverbs. 4. The perfect level /eventuality level ambiguity of for-phrases is suspended once the adverb now is added. I have always known he was a rascal. . Always. Emma has always been tall. Following current suggestions (Demirdache and Uribe-Etxebarria .(E-reading/C-reading) Tom has been pushing the cart for two hours. (ii) there are some differences between BrE and AmE with respect to the choice between the Present Perfect and the Past Tense Simple – cases where AmE may prefer a Simple preterite and BrE prefers or requires a Present Perfect. (iii) the perfect of result (93iii) . Individual-level predicates can combine with always only in the perfect: (90) (i) (ii) Emma has always been tall. The syntax of Perfect sentences (93) (i)) (ii) (iii) (iv) He has visited the museum twice Mary has lived in Cairo for three years (now) Oh! Sam has broken my computer Malcolm Jones has just been assassinated! The sentences above are examples of the four identified values of the present perfect: (i) the perfect of experience (93i) also known in the literature as the existential value shows the existence of one or several eventualities (states. and the resultative present perfect but collapse the present perfect of recent result into the experiential value of the present perfect. (ii) the continuative perfect (93ii). as their semantics is very similar (see below).2002) we collapse the continuative present perfect . The two readings of the perfect will be uniformly derived from the proposal that the perfect is a spatio-temporal predicate with the meaning AFTER/BEFORE. Process predicates in the perfect in the context of for-adverbs also exhibit an ambiguity between E-reading and C-reading . 2004). the present perfect in (93ii) indicates that Mary still lives in Cairo at the moment of speech. (iv) the perfect of recent past (or hot news present perfect) in (93iv) will. irrespective of the final position of the for-phrase: (89) (i) Mary has been sick for two weeks now. He has always smoked in the morning as far as I know. Always is interpreted as being either perfect-level or eventuality-level.32 (ii) For ten years. in our opinion be identified with the existential value of the present perfect. I have been sick for five days. The cases concern situations in the recent past. In such cases the foradverbs is interpreted as eventuality level: (87) (i) Since 1970. the resultative reading obtains with a VP that describes an accomplishment or an achievement. we present the syntax and semantics of the existential and resultative / continuative values of the present perfect following the analysis proposed by Demirdache and Uribe-Etxebarria (2002. Since 1990. AmE would prefer : I just saw them /He already left yesterday. the reasons are twofold: (i) this value accepts all Aktionarts. the result state which derives from the event described by the sentence ( Sam break my computer) is presented as persistent at the moment of utterance. whereas BrE prefers : I’ve just seen them/He’s already left. I have lived in Thessaloniki.

In sum. Thus. Following Kamp and Reyle (1993) we hypothesize that in the case of a state eventuality such as ‘ live in Cairo’ the resultant state begins just after the onset/the starting point of the process itself (and not after its culmination. The relevance at the present time is given by the subject property which is based on participation in the prior situation. with a small difference though. the English present perfect has two properties: its VP structure can be complex and it orders its external argument As-T after its internal argument Ev-T1. Existential Value Consider now the grammar of the existential present perfect as illustrated in sentence(93i): UT-T (95) …[…………]. The derivation of the continuative reading of the present perfect. the presence of the duration adverb for three years is obligatory and it measures the whole reference interval. Ev-T2. (94) VP1 Ev-T1 VP1 V0 Ev-T2 VP2 Process <e> VP2 Resultant State <e’> Each VP in (94) stands for a phase in the internal temporal structure of the event described by the VP. The VP in (93ii) will also be decomposed into two subintervals of time VP 1 and VP2.[…………]………[……‌]………. the present orders Ut-T WITHIN As-T.i. It follows that the result state is presented as still persisting at UT-T. the eventuality is presented as completed with respect to the interval designated by As-T.e. we will assume. 1993).. as illustrated in the schema in (96). the perfect focuses Ev-T2. As-T makes visible the resultant state of the process.33 Since all accounts of the present perfect stress the present time relevance of the present perfect. In its turn. the interval that designates the resultant state of the event after the culmination of its processual subpart. Each of the sub-events in (94) has an external temporal argument: the external argument of VP1. e’) .[…………]………[……‌…]……. from its beginning up to its culmination/termination. as shown in (94). as there is none). VP 1 represents the processual subpart of the event while VP 2 stands for the resultant state (or consequent state) after the culmination/termination of the process. which is concomitant with Ut-T. In the existential reading the situation is viewed as closed. as continuing from a past interval up to the moment of speech.. Ev-T1. The resultative / continuative value of the present perfect We follow Demirdache and Uribe-Etxebarria (2002) and hypothesize that the present perfect induces a resultative or continuative reading when it focuses on the result state of a process: UT-T/AS-T (96) …[………][………]……. The external argument of VP2. designates the resultant state after the culmination/termination of the process. in this way. is very similar to the one provided for the resultative reading.> EV-T1 EV-T2 In this case the perfect focuses one of the internal phases of the temporal structure of the situation denoted by the VP . e (event 1) stands for the process. as already stated.> EV-T1 EV-T2 AS-T . In this way. while e’ (event 2) stands for the result of that event (Hale and Keyser. that is. illustrated in (93ii) ( Mary has lived in Cairo for three years (now)). bounded. The peculiarity of the present perfect is that its As-T can pick up any time interval after Ev-T1 as already shown and repeated below for convenience: Existential Value UT-T (97) …[…………]. The existential value of the present perfect is induced by the fact that AS-T just designates a time interval after Ev-T1 but this interval does not coincide with the interval that characterizes the resultant state of the process.> EV-T1 EV-T2 AS-T The English present perfect (have V-en) is a predicate with the meaning AFTER. as shown in (90). denotes the period of time during which the process unfolds in time. that present perfect predicates (VPs) have a structure that resembles that of transitive accomplishment verbs (e. perfective. Under this analysis the Perfect ASPECT acts like a Past TENSE: both are predicates with the meaning AFTER.. it orders As-T after Ev-T1. or the stative nature of the predication as well as the participant property that it assigns to the subject.

by the time (that). We can go out as soon as we have had dinner / *We can go out as soon as we have dinner. as in (96b) below: (96) a) Come over and see us when our guests leave. (97) You’ll feel a lot better after/when you have taken this medicine. In the second sentence it is the situation type that requires the use of the perfect (durative accomplishment). the present perfect just designates a time interval after Ev-T1 but this interval does not coincide with the interval that characterizes the resultant state of the process: in this case the present perfect acquires an existential value. the use of the present perfect is in free variation with the present tense.34 Resultative/Continuative Value UT-T (98) …[…………][……‌……]…………. when the event in the subordinate clause occurs before the one in the main clause. In some contexts. which designates the resultant state of the process (Ev-T2). the moment (that). in this way. which is concomitant with Ut-T. as soon as. EV-T1 EV-T2 UT-T AS-T1 AS-T2 …[………(………)……]………(………)……. the choice between the two tenses is not free: (a) when the events in the main clause and the subordinate clause temporally coincide. AS-T2 expressed by the perfect coincides with the UT-T either within the interval characterizing the event (99) or after the endpoint of the situation (100).e. A sentence such as Mary has been opening the door means that Mary was in the process of opening the door – it does not mean that Mary was in the resultant state after the culmination of the process. until. In contrast.. Thus.> EV-T1 EV-T2 AS-T In (97). In the first case we may say that we have the continuative reading of dynamic predicates while in the second we may identify the recent result reading of the progressive. the eventuality is presented as completed with respect to the interval designated by As-T. EV_T UT-T (100) Other Temporal Uses of the Present Perfect (i) In adverbial clauses of time the present perfect is used with a future value to express the idea of completion. (99) AS-T1 (-ing) AS-T2 (have) …[……[……………]………[…/……]……]…. and not the subinterval that defines the resultant state of the process (Ev-T 2). b) Come over and see us when our guests have left. Consider the sentence below: (63) You can go when you have finished your work The conjunctions commonly used to introduce the adverbial clauses of time are: when. before. the progressive focuses a subinterval that designates the processual component of the VP. the use of the present perfect in the subordinate clause gives well formed sentences.. The (VP decomposition) analysis of the present perfect proposed by Demirdache and Uribe-Etxebarria (2002) also accounts for the semantics of the English present perfect progressive in a neat way. i.. This variation depends on the situation type : (95) I shall leave as soon as the meeting ends / has ended In other contexts. (ii) Like the Simple Present the Present Perfect can be used with a narrative ‘fictional’ value (Leech 1971:38). (b) when a causal relation between the event in the main clause and that of the subordinate clause is established. the use of the present tense in the subordinate clause is favored. in (98) the present perfect focuses an internal phase of the VP complex structure: it picks up an interval after EvT1. once.Consider the example below borrowed from Leech (1971:38): . after. as in (96a) below. This means that the progressive orders its external argument (As-T1) within its internal argument (EvT1). The reading induced by the present perfect is resultative/continuative because the moment of utterance is concomitant with the focalized state. the use of the present perfect is favored in the subordinate adverbial clause of time. Ev-T 1.

Ever and never are used when the life experience of the subject is predicated about. before the wedding. In context. Adverbs bring in their temporal meaning and they bear on tense selection and even on tense interpretation. When they occur with the present perfect it is the present perfect that relates their time-span to the moment of speech (e. Comrie (1985). As far as the adverbs in column two are concerned. H&P (2002). this year have an intermediate status. where they stumble upon a coded message from Red’s lieutenant Hercule Judd. This phenomenon is known as the Present Perfect Puzzle (Klein 1992). On the other hand. etc) it is shown that locating. Both suggest the meaning ‘ within a period of time’. They only occur with the present perfect and exclude the past tense. those that occur with either the simple past or with the perfect and those that occur with the perfect but not with the simple past. punctual adverbials such as on Thursday.. are considered ungrammatical when occurring with the present perfect in all analyses and by all speakers. C. McCoard (1978) Klein (1992). either by their semantics or by context (e. For the adverbs in column two. the following comments are in order. this morning. in 1976. while deictic adverbs like today. Temporal Adverbs with the Present Perfect and the Past Tense – The Present Perfect Puzzle In the literature on the perfect forms of predicates (cf. yesterday. The period is viewed as closed excluding the time of utterance. Patrick’s Day Parade while I was in New York).. They are known as ‘neutral’ time-span adverbs (Fenn. since-phrases and always which we have already discussed.35 (98) John and Joy Jennings. who have been fighting a gang led by Red Reagan.. The adverbs in the third column coincide with or are oriented to the moment of speech. it is the context and in particular the tense used. The period is viewed as open including the time of utterance.g. just or today are considered to be compatible with the present perfect. It is important to notice that the phenomenon under consideration is not found with other perfect forms (Giorgi& Pianesi (1998: 85): (98) past perfect: Sam had finished his paper yesterday (Heny:1982) modals: Bill may have been in Berlin before the war (Comrie 1976) infinitives: The security officer believes Bill to have been in Berlin before the war (Comrie 1976) gerunds: Having been in Berlin before the war. have followed the sinister goatherd Khari to a mountain hide-out. A saner and more practical man I’ve never met).. Bill is surprised at the many changes (Comrie 1976) A major contribution of McCoard’s study (1978) is the detailed analysis of the way in which temporal adverbs relate to the present perfect and/or past tense. McCoard identifies three classes of adverbs: those that occur with the simple past tense but not with the perfect. The comments here leave out for-phrases. on the radio. this March. Occur with the simple past not with perfect long ago five years ago once (= formerly) the other day those days last night in 1900 at 3:00 after/before the war no longer Occur with either simple past or with perfect long since in the past once (= one time) today in my life for three years recently just now often yet always ever never already before this morning Occur with perfect but not with simple past at present up till now so far as yet during these five years herewith lately since the war before now The adverbs in the first column refer to points or stretches of time that precede the moment of speech..g.g. 1987). I never saw the St. TV.. . or popular magazine. Adverbs like recently. their ‘within a period of time’ meaning also makes them compatible with the past tense (e. among others Leech (1971). these adverbs can be thought of as beginning before the moment of speech and extending beyond it.. which decide which time-sphere (past or present) is actually being referred to. at 3:00). It is used to give a retrospective account of previous episodes which are ‘in the past’ from the point of view of the stage of the story now reached. The example above is a case of serial story instalment.

According to Klein (1992) temporal expressions can refer either to precise/specific temporal positions on the time axis or not. always. (101) P-Definiteness Constraint:: In an utterance the expression of AS-T and the expression of EV-T cannot both be independently P-definite.. I have seen John this morning / I saw John this morning ).e. . the morning time-span is over)“ (Fenn. Klein (1992) suggests that the facts relating to the present perfect puzzle can be explained by a pragmatic principle called the P-Definiteness Constraint. still.g. The sentence He has worked on Sunday is fine because the expression on Sunday does not relate to a specific time in the past ( as the context makes clear). The difference lies in whether the event is viewed simply as a factor of experience obtaining at the moment of speech [with the present perfect] (i.g. Other expressions fix such boundaries . is non p-definite. there are adverbs that combine with either the present perfect or the past tense but with a clear difference in meaning. therefore.. as has often been noted in the literature (Comrie 1985).. We now turn to the phenomenon known as the present perfect puzzle. Adverbs such as today. which is interpreted as a moment/second/minute ago. Both the Present tense and the Past tense are characterized as being B-indefinite.. with the meaning ‘on a certain occasion. Some expressions do not specify the boundaries of the entities they denote. Already. I have just seen your sister / I just saw your sister ) while just now. In fact. I have been ill recently / I was ill recently). never. Why is it that in English (unlike other languages. depending on the context. It seems. I have always suspected your honesty / He always made a lot of fuss about nothing when they were married).. it is a numerical adverb contrasting with twice.. Lately and recently are commonly regarded as synonyms but they show different compatibility as to their occurrence with the past tense and the present perfect. …. can only occur with the past tense (e. Germanic or Romance) punctual adverbs cannot co-occur with the present perfect. and are thus called B(oundary)-definite. this year can occur with both the present perfect and the past tense (e. With past tense.e. it is a narrative substitute for then (= ‘at this point in the story’): Now my ambition was fulfilled . that in English there is a ban against specific temporal adverbs. The first kind of expressions are called P(osition)-definite and the second kind P(osition)-indefinite. on the other hand. at one time’ occurs with the past tense. this week.g. Just can take either the present perfect or the past tense (e.. three times. 1987).g. sometimes. A similar distinction holds with respect to the boundaries of temporal entities. the English present tense is P-definite in that it constrains every temporal entity to include the time of utterance. Now is mainly associated with present tenses: Now my ambition is/has been fulfilled . Consider the examples below borrowed from Giorgi and Pianesi (1998:111): (99) (i) John has never/ always/ often left at four vs. I have spent/*I spent a great deal of money lately ) while recently goes with both the past tense and the present perfect (e.e. i. as Giorgi and Pianesi (1998) suggest On the basis of such evidence.g.g. ‘as late as now’: I have seen him already / I (still) haven’t seen him (yet) . With the past tense they must have a meaning involving a past point of orientation: I was already (= ‘as early as then) very hungry (Leech.. I saw your sister just now). With the present perfect. The difference in uses between adverbs such as just and just now is the following. Klein’s system is similar to the one we have adopted. 1971). Once.36 Adverbs such as often. the morning time-span is not over) or whether it is viewed within the context of the time at which it occurred [with the past tense] (i. there is only one ‘here’ in a given utterance situation but there can be many ‘theres’ Here is thus p-definite and there is not. occur with either the present perfect or with the past tense (e. being based on three temporal entities. Lewis 1975. 1971). Klein (1992)) the ban disappears if the temporal adverbs occur in the context of a frequency adverb such as often. it accepts only the present perfect (e.? An interesting fact about the English present perfect is that this ban against punctual adverbs is not absolute. Heny (1982).… The same is true of the tense forms is and was: if we ignore duration there are many ‘wases’ but only one ‘is’” (Klein 1992:537). He calls these B(oundary)-indefinite expressions. yet and before occur with the present perfect in the sense ‘as early as now’. Lately is a perfect level adverbial. (ii) *John has left at four Consider also the example below (Klein 1992): (100) Why is Chris in jail? He has worked on Sunday and working on Sunday is strictly forbidden in this country. since it only requires that the time of the event should precede the utterance time. According to him. Both sentences convey the meaning that “the act occurred within the time span this morning. etc: I have visited the Highlands only once (Leech. Finally. The difference between the Present Tense and the Simple Past in English is analogous to that of the deictic adverbs here and there: “ if we ignore boundaries . which refer to frequency can. The simple past tense. despite its indefinite meaning: He was once an honest man.

and couldn’t play (resultative) Consider the following sentence in the past perfect where the event of Mary’s leaving the school is viewed as completed before a past reference time. given the perfect auxiliary. present) is p-definite whereas the expression of EV-T is not. do not necessarily relate to or fix a specific time span. in ‘the indefinite past’ according to Mc-Coard 1978. It orders the Ut-T after the As-T. again. such expressions need not be p-definite and under the non.p-definite reading (usually made clear in the context) they are compatible with the present perfect. neither is p-definite. Klein assuming that adverbs like at Christmas.. The same is true for (102iii).e. on Sunday and even at ten. either context or some definite adverbial must provide the necessary specification. neither the As-T nor the EV-T is specifically given i. A very important comment is in order here. the P-definiteness Constraint allows either As-T or EV-T to be expressed by a p-definite expression. In other words. The overall temporal / aspectual representation of the past perfect is illustrated below and in the accompanying schema: EV-T AS-T UT-T (i) As-T after Ev-T (ii) Ut-T after As-T …[……… ]…[………. but not both. Past Perfect Sentences (de completat) The Past Perfect parallels the functions of the Present Perfect as the following examples borrowed from Leech (1976:42) show: (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) The house had been empty for ages (Continuative. To summarize. in spring. (104) illustrates the phrase structure of the past perfect sentence in (103) (Demirdache and Uribe-Etxebarria.37 According to Klein.> Since the Ut-T follows the As-T. (i.]…[………]…. .e. Mary had left school As was the case with the present perfect. The same pragmatic principle accounts for the well-formedness of (100). We have argued that adverbial phrases may specify either AS-T or EV-T. which itself follows the Ev-T. In the simple past variant in (102ii). expressed by the adverbial clause: (103) (i) When I arrived there. the perfect aspect orders the As-T after the Ev-T. 2002. It thus picks out a time after the interval defined by the Ev-T. The past tense on the auxiliary is also a spatio-temporal predicate with the meaning of AFTER.state predicate) Had they been to America before? (Experience) Mr Phipps had preached in that church for 50 years (Continuative-habitual) The goalkeeper had injured his leg. In (102i) the expression of AS-T on the auxiliary (i. As-T is P-definite because of the present tense morpheme on the auxiliary and so is the EV-T of the eventuality <John leave at four> because of the adverbial . Consider the examples below (borrowed from Klein 1992:546) : (102) (i) (ii) (iii) Chris has been in Pontefract. hence in the past. Chris will be in Pontefract. the P-definiteness constraint rules out (70ii).e. Let’s have a look at cases where no time-interval is lexically specified. Leech 1971). or some explicit adverbial. the event (Chris be in Pontefract) occurred before AS-T. the event of Mary’s leaving the school is viewed as completed before a past reference time (As-T). Therefore such an utterance is felt like ‘hanging in the air’ unless we get the information from context. Chris was in Pontefract. 2004): (104) Ut-T T0 after TP T’ AspP As-T Asp’ Asp0 after Ev-T VP VP Proceeding from bottom to top. The adverbial can only fix the EV-T because in a present perfect sentence the AS-T includes UT-T. the past perfect is analyzed as a spatio-temporal predicate with the meaning AFTER.

while the adverb in the main clause specifies As-T for both clauses. he was made a member of Parliament / As soon as he discovered them. Consider some examples: I realised that we had met before. there are cases when the past perfect is not substitutable by the past tense. the past perfect can be substituted by the simple past tense. under certain conditions the perfect may be omitted with little or no effect on the temporal interpretation In subordinate adverbial clauses of time introduced by an explicit conjunction. the time adverb in (105) can modify the As-T: in this case we understand that Mary’s leaving the school occurred prior to the As-T./ I thought I had sent the cheque a week open. he was conducted into the outer office. It is the durative feature of the situation type that requires the use of the perfect (durative accomplishment/activity): before/I wondered who had left the door .m. as in (105). / He went out before As stated by different linguists and grammarians. after. till. However.. She left after/as soon as/before he spoke to her.]…[………]…. As we have seen.> 5 PM In complex sentences.. he ran away / I ate my lunch after my wife came back. as in the example below: (106) a) They told us yesterday that Tom had arrived 3 days earlier. the matrix sentence establishes the past As-T of the subordinate past perfect clause. as a marker of anteriority of the event in the subordinate clause is necessary for the correct interpretation of the whole sentence.> 5 PM Second. such as as soon as. The past perfect can be used in main clauses (as in 105) and in subordinate clauses. This reading of the sentence is illustrated by the schema below and it yields the so called event time reading of the sentence: EV-T AS-T UT-T …[……… ]…[………. as soon as. if we add a temporal adverb such as at 5 to the sentence in (103). Thus. This reading of the sentence is illustrated by the schema below and it yields the so called reference time reading of the sentence: EV-T AS-T UT-T …[……… ]…[……….]…[………]…. (107) He would not allow anyone to leave the inn till he had drunk himself asleep / As two and a half years had elapsed since he had made any money. Sentence (106a) is well formed because the adverb yesterday in the main clause also establishes the As-T of the embedded clause: we understand that Tom’s arrival occurred 3 days prior to yesterday. the time adverb at 5 in (105) can modify the Ev-T: we understand that Mary’s leaving the school occurred at 5 o’clock.38 Notice that since As-T and Ev-T denote two disjoint intervals. b) *Tom had arrived 3 days earlier Notice first that sentence (106b) is ungrammatical as an independent sentence because it contains an adverbial and a tense marker that together cannot establish the As-T. before and after the perfect may be omitted with little or no effect. After he finished his exams he went to Paris for a month. The adverb in the embedded clause specifies a time other than As-T. the sentence will have two distinct readings depending on whether the time adverb modifies the Ev-T or the As-T: (105) Mary had left school at 5 First./She left the country as soon as she completed her thesis. namely Ev-T2. Spencer returned to London / When his mind had been weaker his heart led him to speak out / Within the minutes after he had received the assurance that the thing was impossible. the adverb in the embedded clause specifies only its Ev-T (and its As-T is shared with that of the matrix clause). if the predicate denotes a nondurative eventuality : (72) After/When he came back from India. which itself coincides with the time denoted by 5 p. it may occur in complement clauses to describe an event that occurred previous to a past reference time as well as in subordinate adverbial clauses introduced by the conjunctions: when./As soon as I put the phone down it rang again. before.

. he turned it off. When I wrote to her she came at once. As we can notice. as the examples below (39) indicate: (39) The match now starts next Monday. Compare the following: (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) When I had written the letters I did some gardening. Given these characteristics of when. he burned it / After he had listened to the radio. iv) can suggest that the first event ‘leads’ into the other.g.39 (73) When he had read the letter. Means of expressing Future Time It is a well-acknowledged fact that one cannot be as certain of future situations as one is of events past and present. and for this reason (Leech 1971) there are a number of ways of expressing future time in English. completed before the second started.e. The Simple Present may be used to describe future situations .iii) marks the first action as separate.. In contrast the simple past (ii. 2. possibility/probability) involve future time: they represent predictions of present attitudes with respect to a future time sphere (e. She left the country as soon as she had written/*wrote her thesis. When I had opened the windows I sat down and had a cup of tea. modal verbs such as will and shall express predictions about what might happen in the future. This entails that the futurate construction is subject to severe constraints among which is: • the presence of future time adverbials. last but not least • the future situation is determinable from the state of the world now. Present Tense with Future value ( the Futurate) .4. that is to say that the clause must involve something that can be assumed to be known already in the present. (H&P 2002:147) As already mentioned. /She left the country as soon as she had written her thesis. he burned it / * When he read the letter. overlapping or successive. allowing several interpretations. independent of the second.e. In what follows we describe the above-mentioned five means of expressing futurity in English for us to be able to grasp some differences and nuances of usage that distinguish among them. The durative feature of the situation is indeed relevant in using the past perfect in subordinate clauses of time. following Swan (1995:421). As known. not Tuesday. shall) or to the aspectual paradigm (the progressive). The situations presented may be taken as simultaneous. as I said in my letter (Huddlestone&Pullum:133) The two adjuncts specify different time intervals: now (as well as the present tense morpheme) specifies UT-T/AS-T while next Monday specifies the time of the future situation. When I opened the window the cat jumped out. The fact that the Simple Present still means ‘present’ is rendered clear by the possibility of having different time specifications within he same clause. When seems not to impose any particular relation on situations (unlike after which always requires that the main clause have a closed interpretation). i. • the aspectual type of the situation (state predicates are excluded in such sentences ) and. or that there is a cause-effect link between them. (UT-T/AS-T BEFORE EV-T) The presence of the present tense morpheme has immediate consequences on the interpretation of the future situation assigning it a high degree of certainty. it attributes to the future the same degree of certainty that we normally accord to present or past events (Leech: 60). All epistemic senses of modal verbs (i. the contrast between perfect and non-perfect takes on more significance. She left the country before she had written her thesis She left the country before she wrote her thesis There is a distinct difference in interpretation between (iii) and (iv): (iii) suggests that she had started writing when she left while (iv) indicates that the leaving preceded the whole of the thesis writing. the past perfect in (i.1. it may/shall/will take place tomorrow).e. Compare the following sentences: (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) She left the country as soon as she had completed/completed her thesis. when-clauses are flexible. . he turned it off / * After he listened to the radio. EV-T. depending on viewpoint and situation types. i. the most important of which are: • • • • • Simple Present : The parcel arrives tomorrow Present progressive: The parcel is arriving tomorrow Be going to + Infinitive: The parcel is going to arrive tomorrow Will/shall + Infinitive: The parcel will arrive tomorrow Will/shall + Progressive Infinitive: The parcel will be arriving tomorrow All these linguistic means that express future time belong to either the modal system (will.

knowing the skill. As in the case of the Simple Present. meet. experience and past performances of the team. by a committee. contain. Weather forecasts are rendered by means of ‘going to’ or ‘shall/will’ In (43ii) we have examples that describe situations that have already been arranged. arrangement are to be taken as preliminary stages of the future event (just like in the case of the Simple Present). but a fact that is given. It is to be noted that subjective certainty is not enough. the happening referred to is not a prediction. The general assumption is that the factor of plan or arrangement restricts the Progressive Futurate to dynamic ‘doing’ verbs cases where human agency is involved. The most widely used predicates belong to the class of non-durative event verbs in particular verbs of directed motion such as go. programme or arrangement . 2./Jeeves will announce the guests as they arrive.( Leech 1971:60). end. The use of the Simple Present in (43iii) is not just a requirement of the syntactic pattern. 2002): (40) (ii) (iii) (i) Tomorrow is Sunday. The use of the Present in (44ii) is unnatural. in the sense that the sentences above do not present an open situation. a court of law or some un-named authority.40 In the example above the present tense morpheme and the adverb now give the time of the arrangement or schedule. (ii) scheduled events (regarded as unalterable) and (iii) subordinate clauses introduced by conditional and adverbial conjunctions. the most common uses involve: (i)statements about the calendar or cyclic events. The set of examples in (43i) reflect the use of the Simple Present for recurrent events whose time of occurrence can be scientifically calculated. The Present Progressive (Progressive Futurate) Consider the following examples borrowed from Leech: (45) I’m starting work tomorrow/ She’s getting married this spring/Next they are playing the Schubert Octet / In each of the sentences there is the implication of an arrangement already made. since the sentence conveys that the result itself has already been arranged.e. . It is generally assumed that with the Simple Present the arrangement is felt to be an i mpersonal or collective one. leave. (Leech 1971:60). To sum up./If you don’t do better next time you are fired/Either he plays according to the rules or he doesn’t play at all/I’ll tell you if it hurts. come. the swallows will return.hence the reference time (i.4. hence the anomaly of examples like (46 b. 2002:132): (41) (ii) (i) Australia meets Sweden in the Davis Cup final in December ???Australia beats Sweden in the Davis Cup final in December The sentence in (44i) is quite natural in a context where Australia and Sweden have already qualified for the final.c) below: (46) a) John is rising at 5 tomorrow b) *The sun is rising at 5 tomorrow/*It is raining tomorrow c) *Who is being captain of the team next Saturday? In (46c) the progressive occurs with an individual level state of being and having (be. 2002:132). for example. In the dependent clauses mentioned. By contrast.The element of current schedule or arrangement is seen in the contrast in (44) below (Huddlestone and Pullum. the use of the Simple Present with Future value is appropriate to indicate that the consequence of the condition being fulfilled it is inevitable or already decided. then I predict Y’. consist. cost. start. the plan. scheduled./Her case comes before the magistrate next week. the key to the Simple Present with Future value is that it represents FUTURE AS FACT./The Chancellor makes his budget speech tomorrow afternoon/We start for Istanbul tonight./Next Christmas falls on a Thursday/The next high tide is around 4 this afternoon/When is the next full moon? The next Kevin Costner film opens at the Eldorado on Saturday. made. hence it can be included under what is currently known. When the spring comes . but has its base in a contrast of meaning. According to Smith./When do the lectures end this year?/She is president until next May. the simple present is not used for future weather since such events are not conceived of as being within the domain of what is known (Huddlestone and Pullum. Hence. Consider the examples below borrowed from different sources (Leech 1971. A conditional sentence.2. that it attributes to the future the same degree of certainty that we normally accord to present or past events. as in (43iii). has the structure ‘If X is a fact. one might feel certain about the result of the match but this does not sanction the Simple Present. aspectual verbs such as begin. have etc) that generally do not occur in the progressive. As-T) of the Progressive Futurate is the present and the future time adverbial specifies the EV-T of the sentence. According to grammarians. for instance. etc. Huddlestone and Pullum. Important to mention is the fact that the progressive viewpoint of the predicate does not have its usual value (Smith 1991:247). the Present Progressive with future time value is used to predict a future situation by virtue of a present plan.

it’s hardly possible if I’d simply said casually. but it is not limited to them: it could be that I have formed the intention to call her (without consulting her or anyone else about the matter) and am waiting till I think she’ll be in. ‘we or somebody else intend to paint the wall green’) (Leech 1976:55) • the second extension of the general sense of be going to can be stated as “future fulfillment of present cause” (Leech. be going to is mainly used in colloquial speech.e. In contemporary English. she is already pregnant) / I think I’m going to faint (i. the only possible difference is that the progressive tends to be used for the relatively near future 2. Consider first the sentences (21 in H&P): (48) (a) I phone her tonight (b) I’m phoning her tonight (c) She has her operation tomorrow d) She’s having her operation tomorrow (e) It expires tomorrow/in five years (f) It’s expiring tomorrow/?in five years ‘The difference between progressive and non-progressive is fairly clear in pairs like (48a. In passive sentences. I’ll phone you tonight. 1971).subclauses Compare: (53) If you accept that job. Huddlestone and Pullum (2002) contrast the use of the simple present tense form with the present progressive form with future time adverbs along similar terms. The Progressive Futurate may also convey a sense of imminence that is absent from the use of the simple present tense with future time adverbs: (47) The Smiths are leaving tomorrow / My aunt is coming to stay with us this Christmas. Notice that be going to can also be used when speaking about periods remote from UT-T. In (c ) and (d) there is little difference between the two forms. I already feel ill) / There’s going to be a storm in a minute (i.000 years from now (present cause) Generally. (50) What are you going to do today? I am going to stay at home and write letters They’re going to get married in a registry office/ On this reading a sentence such as ‘I am going to punish you’ is felt as stronger than ‘I intend to punish you’. that is to say in neither of the two uses is imminence a necessary semantic accompaniment of be going to: (52) (i) I’m going to be a policeman when I grow up (present intention) (ii) If Winterbottom’s calculations are correct.4.. operations normally involve formal scheduling. you’ll never regret it vs. to be going to refers to the intention of the implied agent: This wall is going to be painted green (i. Jespersen (1931) remarks that the structure be going to derives from the progressive form of the verb to go: “going loses its meaning as a verb of movement and becomes an empty grammatical word”. Be going to is inappropriate in main clauses of IF.e. The non-progressive (48a) suggests a schedule or plan: perhaps I regularly call her on Sunday or perhaps the call is part of a larger plan or arrangement. it implies the speaker’s confidence in his power to put the threat into effect..000. I can see the black clouds gathering)/Watch out! The pile of boxes is going to fall In all the sentences above the feeling is that the events/causes leading to the future event are under way. Be going to is a frozen form that cannot be analyzed into two separate verb forms: it is listed as such in the lexicon. The progressive could be used in these schedule/plan scenarios. The basic meaning of be going to is that of “future fulfillment of the present ” (Leech.41 Present progressive sentences with future time adverbs tend to be used for the relatively near future rather than distant future whereas there is no such difference in the case of the Simple Futurate. this planet is going to burn itself out 200. Thus a sentence like *I wonder whether she is going to know you is odd because one cannot will oneself into knowing somebody. 1971).e. The intention communicated by to be going to is usually ascribable to the subject of the sentence. This sense is common with both animate and inanimate subjects and agentive and non-agentive verbs. The same process occurred in French with the form je vais faire.3. covering thus a wider range of contexts than the intentional meaning of to be going to (Leech 1976): (51) She is going to have another baby (i.e.b).. Be Going To Consider the following example: (49) (i) I’m going to call him (ii) It’s going to rain. Leech (1971) identifies two extensions of this general meaning of to be going to: • the first one is “the future fulfillment of present intention ” that is chiefly found with human subjects who consciously exercise their will and with doing or agentive verbs. .

If you’re going to lose your temper. is absent or irrelevant./ The only relative I know of. (iv) main clause of conditional sentences: (i) If you pull the lever. whereas ‘present oriented’ expressions are those that may contain present indications of what the future may bring’ (Close 1970:230). since they are preferred when emphasis on present signs. Leech (1971:54) considers the meaning of the going to construction to be ‘future fulfillment of the present’. ‘we cannot be as certain of future happenings as we are of events past and present. intention. Hudlestone and Pullum (2002:211) also lay emphasis on the fact that ‘ be going to has greater focus on the matrix time which depends on the . Accordingly. and for this reason. while those in (55ii) express volitional futurity: (55) (i) Allan will be in Bucharest now / Mary will be in Sibiu tomorrow / Tomorrow’s weather will be cold and cloudy / You will feel better after you take this medicine (ii) If he should decide to instruct us further in the matter. obvious signs) which is felt to be leading to a future event. be going to is well-represented in if-clauses: (54) If we carry on like this we are going to find ourselves in difficulty./‘The telephone is ringing’. etc): Tomorrow’s weather will be cold and cloudy. I’ll answer it’. If we are going to get there on time we must leave immediately (H&P: 201) Will and Shall 2.the roof will slide back. one should not describe it as a ‘future tense’ on a par with the Present and Past Tenses. I am not going to/ won’t play. harvest. naturally. According to Close. The mixture of (modal and temporal) values of these modal verbs is due to the diachronic development of English: at the beginning will/shall had only modal values and in time they also developed a future reading when they occur with future time adverbs. I’ll make some tea.A Close (1970:230). Next year we shall have a good harvest. Will/shall are described as ‘future-oriented’.ii). so there is no point in saying ‘it will rain’ unless an actual time can be forecast”. And if he’s going to walk to Tenby they could be starting when he is in Tenby. is a daughter in America. you are never going to regret it The difference is accounted for by the fact that ‘ be going’ focuses on the present circumstances (AS-T =present). Several contemporary large-size grammars. Doctor. naturally. preparation. Will and shall are no exceptions’ (Leech 1976:52). presumably because of their factual emptiness: we all feel certain that ‘it will rain’ at some time in the future. put forth by R. is that the major difference between shall/will and be going to as markers of futurity lies in the distinction between ‘future-oriented’ and ‘present-oriented’ expressions of futurity. The next budget will be a severe one. something involving the speaker’s judgement. Most traditional grammars have interpreted the modal auxiliaries will and shall as means of expressing future time. intention. (ii) cause-effect relationship: You will feel better after this medicine/Perhaps I’ll change my mind after I’ve spoken to my wife/ (iii)prophetic statements: In twenty years’ time the average employee will work a twenty-five hour week. In fact.4.e. unlike shall/will. is a daughter in America. you will succeed. You’ll come of age next year. ‘neutral future’. According to Leech. be going to is described as ‘present-oriented’ since the essential point of this construction is a focus on some present factor (e. many corpus studies mention that.52ii and 54i. while in the case of will it focuses on future rather than present contingencies (AS-T =future). I’ll cable her.g. The only relative I know of. there is no grammatical category that can properly be analysed as a future tense (H&P:209) The will/shall future is favoured in contexts in which it is appropriate to make predictions: (i) forecast (weather. If you work hard. These sentences are relatively unacceptable on their own. i. If the circumstances are present rather than future be going to is suitable in the main clause of if-clauses (see ex. ‘expressions that ‘predict’ an event or state are ‘future-oriented’.42 *If you accept that job.assume that ‘while there are numerous ways of indicating future time. I’ll cable her. Although the will/shall construction is generally assumed to provide English with the nearest approximation to a ‘colourless’. It’ll be winter soon. On the other hand. etc. such as ‘The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language’ (2002).4. Leech (1971) makes the following comments with respect to their usage: “frequently a sentence with will/shall is incomplete without an adverbial of definite time: *It will rain / *The room will be cleaned. the contribution of these modal verbs in sentences such as (55) below is modal: the examples in (55i) the interpretation is that of making predictions. (v)Instantaneous intention: The kettle is boiling. even the most confident prognostication must indicate something of the speaker’s attitude and so be tinged with modality.’All right. Doctor. we’ll let you know. Differences between shall/will future and going to future A very interesting and intuitively clear suggestion.

instantaneous decision.hence. Palmer (1979:130) remarks that “for future in the past. suggests. As in the case of the Futurate. In the case of ‘shall/will’ AS-T is Future and EV-T is co-temporal with it. 1971): (59) I was going to say that it looked a bit like a pheasant in flight / …and the North just wasn’t going to have it at any price / Twenty years later. specifying EV-T. the progressive indicates that the matter has already been settled rather than being subject to decision now (H&P 2002:172). Will/Shall + Progressive Infinitive Traditional grammars list the structure will/shall be V-ing among the means of expressing future time events.is conspicuous in the ambiguity of (60vi).just as in the non-progressive we’ll fly . Present. which. According to grammarians. On the progressive aspectuality (imperfective) reading we will already be flying to Bonn when the meeting ends i. The was going to version in (56i) implicates non-actualisation of the situation. The difference between the two meanings of the progressive – progressive aspectuality and future time reference.4. With human subjects and activity verbs the modals will/shall+ short infinitive frequently combine prediction with overtones of volition. they’ll probably still be having lunch (aspectual meaning) (iv) Will you be going to the shops this afternoon? (future time reading) (v) Will you go to the shops? (request) (vi) When the meeting ends we’ll be flying to Bonn (ambiguous) In the sentences in (60i. (aspectual meaning) (iii)When we get there. UT-T before AS-T.ii. the progressive form of the verb is not interpreted in terms of ‘imperfective’ aspectuality but rather in terms of future time reference. which is accounted for by the current focus mentioned above: was going to focuses on the intention/arrangement obtaining in the past rather than on the future event as such. Dick Whittington would be the richest man in London 2.e. however. In case the sentence has a past time sphere.5. the sentence predicts that this time next week/9 o’clock/when we get here the activity denoted by the predicate is in progress. In what follows we quote Leech’s (1971:68) comments on the different usages of will/shall vs will/shall and the progressive. The role of the progressive in (60iv) is to avoid such an interpretation.iii) the verb is in the progressive form and the modal shall contributes its (modal) predictive sense. is semantically strong and the would version entails actualisation of the event of marrying. comments which confirm the statements above. AS-T within EV-T. but the examiner turned out to be short-sighted. The AS-T of ‘be going to’ is . Would. on the ‘already decided future’ interpretation the when adjunct says when we will leave: UT-T before AS-T/EV-T. Huddlestone and Pullum (2002:171) take the same point of view as far as the will+progressive is concerned. the adverb. In all these sentences we can identify the aspectual meaning of the progressive. Therefore. if any. Consider first the following set of sentences: (57) a) I’ll drive into London next week (‘I’ve made my mind’) . while the would version (restricted to narrative past) entails actualization: (56) (i) He was going to marry his tutor at the end of the year (ii) He would marry his tutor at the end of the year (iii) He was going to/*would challenge me to a duel but on mature consideration he changed his mind (iv) I was going to/*would fail the exam. the salient interpretation of the non-progressive (60v) is as a request to the subject of the sentence to go to the shops. be going to is regularly used”.43 matrix tense: present with is going to and past with was going to’. Consider the examples below: Consider the following examples: (60) (i) This time next week I shall be sailing across the Atlantic (aspectual meaning) (ii) Don’t call me at 9 – I’ll be eating my supper. on the other hand. more or less. The difference in interpretation can best be seen by comparing (60iv) to (60v) – the non-progressive counterpart of (60iv). all the future time expressions are modified to indicate a future + past situation (future in the past): (58) He was leaving town the day after we arrived / He was going to be a policeman later in his life. while in literary style would is likely to occur (Leech. In (iv) the interpretation of the sentence is different. The above-stated difference accounts for the following: (i) the inappropriateness of going to in future conditional sentences except when the condition is a present one rather than a future one (Leech 1971) (see examples above) (ii) imminence is not a necessary semantic accompaniment of going to constructions (see examples above) (iii) going to expressions in the past do not entail that the situation described by the verb was actualised.

The possibility of volitional coloring is avoided in sentence (57b). to be on the point of/on the verge of/on the brink of: (90) He was about to retrace his steps when he was suddenly transfixed to the spot by a sudden appearance / His finger was upon the trigger and he was on the point of fire / He has been on the brink of marrying her / He was just on the point of proposing to her / The miserable foreigner looked ready to drop with fatigue / I was very nearly offering a large reward . but in practice. for it would forestall any awkward feeling of indebtedness on the listener’s part: ‘I shall be making the journey anyway. it is difficult to avoid suggesting at the same time that one wants and intends to drive to London. it is possible to use (57a) in the neutral predictive sense of ‘I shall die one day’.44 b) I’ll be driving into London next week (‘as a matter of fact’) c) Will you put on another play soon (‘Please!’) d) Will you be putting on another play soon? (‘Is this going to happen?’) “In principle. and therefore comes to sound almost like a cajoling imperative. The same thing applies to the second pair. Along with Leech (1971) we will call this form of future as ‘future as a matter of course’ In case the sentence has a past time sphere. Sentence (57b) could easily precede the offer ‘Can I give you a lift’?. all the future time expressions are modified to indicate a future + past situation (future in the past): (58) He was leaving town the day after we arrived / He was going to be a policeman later in his life To the above-mentioned expressions of futurity in English we can also add the following: to be about to (used to express imminent future situations. sentence (57c) implicates the intentions of the listener. it is less colloquial than to be going to). so don’t feel you would be causing me any trouble. which is understood simply as a statement that ‘such and such is going to happen’. to be ready to. but sentence (57d) simply asks whether a future production will come to pass”. to be near to. As a question.